2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 5 - Clemson at Virginia Tech
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Oct. 1 Clemson 23 … at Virginia Tech 3
CFN Analysis: After beating Auburn and Florida State with a flashy offense, Clemson showed it could get gritty, too. David Wilson got his yards, running for 123, but the Tigers shut down the rest of the Virginia Tech attack with little coming from the Hokie passing game and with good stops when needed to get off the field. The offense had some problems with Tajh Boyd completing just 13-of-32 passes, but he got the midrange plays going with Sammy Watkins, Jason Brown, and Dwayne Allen all coming up with big plays. Andre Branch was terrific, making 11 tackles, two sacks, and four tackles for loss keying a huge day from the D, and if the Tigers get the same sort of effort over the next two weeks against Boston College and Maryland, they'll be 7-0 going into the North Carolina showdown.
Thud. Virginia Tech finally had a chance to make a statement, and with a soft schedule until mid-November, this was a chance to go on a big run and get into the discussion for a possible special season, but the offense fell flat, the defense didn't come up with the key stops against the pass, and now there's work to do in conference play. Fortunately, if the defense does its job and if Logan thomas can be just a wee bit better, there shouldn't be problems against Miami, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Duke before going to Georgia Tech. David Wilson and the running game are a given, but Thomas and the passing game can't fizzle like this again.
(AP) BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Tajh Boyd and No. 13 Clemson became the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to beat ranked teams three weeks in a row, and did it resoundingly with a 23-3 victory against No. 11 Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Boyd, a Virginia native recruited by the Hokies, threw for a touchdown and dissected a top-10 defense for the second week in a row in snapping the Hokies' 12-game ACC winning streak.
The Tigers got rushing touchdowns from Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy and finished with 323 yards against a defense that was ranked fourth nationally, allowing just 231 yards per game.
The Hokies (4-1) had a miserable night offensively, gaining 258 yards.
The Tigers led 10-3 at halftime and doubled the edge quickly after halftime.
Following an 11-yard punt by Scott Demler, who dropped the ball while rolling toward a rugby style kick and them seemed to kick the end of the ball, Boyd hit Jaron Brown for 27 yards. Andre Ellington ran for 7 and Boyd found Dwayne Allen on the next play for a 32-yard touchdown.
Allen got inside rover Eddie Whitley on the play and made it look easy.
Boyd finished 13 for 32 for 204 yards, the touchdown and one interception.
The rest of the half featured drive after drive that started, then stopped for the Hokies, and when they came up short on a fourth-and-4 from the Tigers 12, Clemson put the game away.
The Tigers' 88-yard drive featured Boyd passes of 20 yards to Allen and 13 to Jaron Brown on a third-and-5 from the Tigers' 42, and Bellamy's 31-yard burst for the touchdown.
That sent Hokies fans who filled the stadium and sat through 40 degree temperatures with a stiff breeze and drizzle falling during parts of the game streaming glumly for the exits.
But nothing the Hokies did all night suggested the outcome would be different.
A fumble by David Wilson set up Clemson's first score. Wilson was hit by Carlton Lewis while breaking through the line, and the ball popped into the air, right to Jonathan Meeks. He returned it inside the Hokies' 5, but a holding call brought it back to the Tigers' 41.
Boyd hit Brown between two defenders for 16 yards on third-and-4, but three straight incompletions from the Virginia Tech 14 forced a 31-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro.
The Hokies tied it in the second quarter when Jayron Hosley jumped in front of Boyd's pass and returned it 14 yards to the Tigers' 31. It was Hosley's 12th career interception, and just the second thrown by Boyd this season.
An 18-yard run by Wilson on third-and-2 from the 23 got the Hokies to the 5, but two runs by Wilson netted just 3 yards, and a false start pushed the ball back to the 7. After Logan Thomas threw incomplete under pressure, Cody Journell made a 24-yard field goal with 4:35 left in the half.
That left Boyd with plenty of time, and Hokies linebacker Wiley Brown helped out with a 15-yard personal foul on the kickoff. Starting at the Virginia Tech 48, Boyd did some dazzling work passing and running to drive the Tigers them to the go-ahead touchdown before the half was over.
On third-and-10 from the 48, he hit Ellington for 11 yards. On third-and-8 from the 35, he found Sammy Watkins open deep downfield for 23 yards, and then ran 9 yards on the next play.
Ellington's 1-yard run gave the Tigers a 10-3 lead.
The only threat the Hokies mounted after halftime ended the with a fourth-down from Logan Thomas that Danny Coale had no chance of catching, followed by the Tigers clinching drive.
Thomas was just 15 for 27 for 125 yards and was sacked four times.
Clemson (4-0) at Virginia Tech (4-0) Oct. 1, 6:00, ESPN2
Here's The Deal … Blacksburg will play host to a blockbuster ACC event on Saturday evening. Both of the game's participants are hoping to appear in the sequel in Charlotte a little over two months from now.
Clemson and Virginia Tech are two of the last three unbeaten ACC members, hoping to represent the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions, respectively, in the Dec. 3 league championship game. For now, simply remaining unblemished through Week 5 will be the goal. The Tigers were one of the country's biggest surprises of September, capping a perfect start with signature wins over Auburn and Florida State. The program has adapted swimmingly to offseason changes in the coaching staff and the offensive system, while giving birth to a handful of up-and-coming stars at the skill positions.
The Hokies have been, well, the Hokies. As always, style points come at a premium, but the team continues to produce results with unflinching consistency. Unlike Clemson, though, Tech has yet to truly be tested in 2011. In fact, it's yet to even face an opponent from a major conference, which makes this weekend's showdown an even taller order for the Gobblers.
Why Clemson Might Win: It's taken just a few weeks for the Tigers to adapt to coordinator Chad Morris' up-tempo offensive system. With Tajh Boyd calling the shots behind center, they've yet to be held below 35 points, slapping 344 yards and three touchdowns through the air on the Seminoles last Saturday. The sophomore's supporting cast has evolved on the fly, giving him more speed and explosiveness than they've had at Clemson in years. The cast of homerun hitters includes RB Andre Ellington and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.
While just a rookie, Watkins is on the verge of becoming a mega-star, with 28 catches for 433 yards and six touchdowns through the first four games. If the Tigers succeed in dragging Tech into a shootout, the Hokies will struggle to keep pace. Their first-year starting quarterback, Logan Thomas, has been slow to adapt to his expanded role, and the receiving corps has been decimated by injuries.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win: The Clemson offense is terrific. The Virginia Tech D believes it's a little bit better. The Hokies, under the guidance of long-time coordinator Bud Foster, have gotten off to a great start so far in 2011, ranking no lower than No. 10 nationally in sacks, rushing D, pass efficiency D, scoring D and total D. The unit is a little short on star power, save for CB Jayron Hosley, leaning instead on a committee of speedy defenders who don't miss tackles. Ends J.R. Collins and James Gayle are quick off the snap, a concern for a middling Tigers front wall. Linebackers Tariq Edwards and Bruce Taylor have a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
The corners, Hosley and Kyle Fuller are air-tight, bolstering a secondary that's allowed only two touchdown passes and picked off seven throws. The Hokies won't need Thomas to be prolific to win this game. The meld of lightning-quick RB David Wilson and north-south RB Josh Oglesby will do plenty of damage to a suspect Clemson front that's allowing a whopping 4.8 yards per carry.
What To Watch Out For: The matchup between the Virginia Tech corners and the Clemson receivers will be the best game-within-the-game of the evening. Strike that. It'll be the most intriguing pairing of the entire weekend's slate of games. Even by five-star recruit standards, Watkins has been otherworldly so far, toying with defensive backs four or five years his senior. Hopkins, or "Nuke" to the locals, has similar incendiary qualities, yet could be a scratch if his hamstring injury hasn't healed. Fuller and Hosley rank among the best cornerback tandems in America, the next in a long line of Hokies defensive backs destined to play on Sundays. While Fuller operates with the mentality of a safety, Hosley has elite cover skills. To win in Blacksburg, Clemson will need to be the first team in a long time to solve the Virginia Tech pass defense.
What Will Happen: The ACC has not heard the last of Clemson, but the run of wins over ranked teams will end at two. Virginia Tech is ideally suited to slow down the Tigers with a combination of its attacking defense and diverse ground game. While the Tigers will score and amass a bunch of yards, they won't reach the end zone with the same proficiency as in recent weeks. Foster will employ the right mix of stunts and blitzes to keep Boyd from distributing the ball unmolested. On offense, the Hokies won't ask Thomas to be the hero, leaning instead on the big-play ability of Wilson. The game will be close throughout, with every late possession carrying significance. Clemson has yet to play outside Death Valley. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, will feed off the energy in Lane Stadium, the difference in a battle between similarly talented programs.
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 29 … Clemson 26
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Virginia Tech -7 O/U: 49
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