2007 Monday Thoughts: Clemson

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Going into the game, TSL’s Chris Coleman correctly identified the matchup
issues that favored the Hokies against Clemson. Special teams was the most
glaring mismatch the Hokies could exploit, and boy, did they. Thanks to a rare
and unpredictable points explosion from the defense and special teams, Tech
grabbed a big win on the road, running their ACC road record to 12-1 since
joining the conference.

I
thought long and hard about this trip. 290 miles, on the heels of five straight
Saturdays attending every Hokie game in person. The season was starting to wear
me down, and I didn’t like Tech’s chances in this one. That opinion was shared
by a lot of people I talked to, though not everyone. One source close to the
team said he had a BC-2006-like vibe, and he felt the Hokies were about to get
hammered.

I’m glad now that I went. That just goes to show, you have to go play the
game, because you never know what’s going to happen. (The flip side is, that
statement applies to the Duke game this coming weekend. Don’t sleep on the
Devils and Thad Lewis.) What happened was simple: The Hokies blew up on Clemson
with special teams and defense for a 24-3 lead, then rode that lead to victory,
though it got dicey late before the Hokies added an insurance touchdown.

I was at Clemson for the 37-0 thrashing the Hokies laid on the Tigers back in
1998, and the parallels and differences between that game and this one are
interesting.

That game was only nine years ago, but the Virginia Tech-Clemson dynamic has
changed drastically since then. In 1998, Clemson had beaten the Hokies 16 out of
18 times dating back to 1935 and had a stranglehold on the series. The 1998 game
was a 1 pm affair on September 12th and was, of course, a non-conference game.
Clemson’s Memorial Stadium was drenched in sunshine that day.

Fast forward nine years, and much had changed. It was the Hokies who had
dominated the series, winning four in a row (now five) by a combined score of
133-38. The game is now a conference matchup (we never saw that coming in
1998), and this time around, it was scheduled in October,

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