Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0, 0-0) vs. Clemson Tigers (4-0, 1-0)
Time: 6 p.m. EDT
Date: Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011
Place: Blacksburg, Va.
Stadium: Lane Stadium/Worsham Field
(Cap: 66,233, Open: 1965, Field: Bermuda)
TV: ESPN2 and ESPN3.com
Radio: VT IMG, XM TBA, Sirius TBA
Spread: Virginia Tech -7
Weather: High of 64, no chance of rain
Clemson: After struggling against Troy and Wofford, the Tigers have had impressive wins over a pair of Top 25 teams the last two weeks against Auburn and Florida State. QB Tajh Boyd has been the catalyst for Clemson's success, completing 68 percent of his passes at 9.4 ypa with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two games. Freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins has become his favorite target. He had 296 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn and FSU. On defense, the Tigers are giving up 6.3 ypp, the most in the ACC. Opposing QBs have a 133.6 rating against Clemson's defense, second-worst in the conference.
Trends: Virginia Tech is 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 2006. The Hokies will try to start 5-0 for the first time since 2005, when they started 8-0. They have won 14 consecutive regular-season games. Clemson is 5-8 in road games under Dabo Swinney, including 1-5 in its last six.
History Lesson: The Hokies are 12-17-1 all-time against Clemson, 2-5 against the Tigers in Lane Stadium and 5-3 against them under Frank Beamer. Tech has won the last five meetings. The last time the two teams met was 2007 in Clemson, when Tech raced out to a 31-5 lead thanks to touchdowns on a D.J. Parker interception and Macho Harris kick return before winning 41-23. The Hokies held the Tigers to eight rushing yards in the game. The last meeting in Blacksburg was a Thursday night in 2006 when Clemson came in at No. 10 against the unranked Hokies and lost, 24-7. The Hokies out-gained the Tigers on the ground, 224-80. Branden Ore had one of his better games as a Hokie, rushing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The last time Clemson beat Virginia Tech was in Blacksburg in 1989, when the No. 7 Tigers beat the unranked Hokies, 27-7 as they held Vaughn Hebron to 19 yards on nine carries.
What to Expect
- Expect a banged-up bunch of Hokies. We don't know how healthy Jarrett Boykin and Marcus Davis will be and J.R. Collins looked gimpy at times against Marshall.
- Expect another spread-based offense. Clemson is another team the Hokies will face that run primarily out of the spread formation and rarely have the QB line up under center. Like Arkansas State, offensive coordinator Chad Morris strives for a balanced number of run and pass plays, but so far the Tigers are having a lot more success through the air.
- Expect Bud Foster to find a way to get pressure on Boyd. Boyd is playing great right now, but will make his first career road start in Blacksburg. Foster will do whatever he can to make Boyd uncomfortable, but it will give Clemson's talented group of receivers a chance to make plays in space.
- Expect the Hokies' run game to be the deciding factor in this one. The battle between Clemson's high-powered offense and Tech's defense will get all the headlines, but at the end of the day the Hokies aren't going to win this game if they can't run the ball effectively. I think our receivers will have a chance to a good game against Clemson's secondary, but that will only happen if Tech is getting its yards on the ground. Auburn, Wofford and Troy had success on the ground against the Tigers, but FSU definitely did not.
- Expect some bad special teams from both sides. The Hokies and Tigers have both struggled on special teams and whichever team makes fewer mistakes in the kicking game might be the one that wins.
Hokies Win If: The run game churns out yards and they get pressure on Boyd.
Tigers Win If: Their receivers make plays against Tech's secondary and they win the turnover battle.
Dot-dot-dots: Boyd was a QB at Phoebus High School in Hampton ... Virginia Tech is 7-0 in ACC openers since joining the conference in 2004 ... Danny Coale had his first career punts against Marshall and averaged 31.0 yards on two kicks ... D.J. Coles had career highs in catches and yards Saturday in his first career start.