TAMPA, Fla. -- There was breaking news prior to Clemson's kick-off against Georgia Tech on Saturday night.
Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele broke his right hand punching a locker room wall in attempt to fire up the Clemson defense during an impassioned pre-game speech.
Steele probably figured the team needed a show of enthusiasm going up against the Yellow Jackets' spread option, which entered averaging an ACC-best 35 points and 305 rushing yards per game.
Steele had his hand wrapped in a cast as the Tigers came on to the field to start the game. His ability to make hand signals did not appear to be hampered.
By losing Saturday, Clemson figures to need a parachute, with bowl after bowl reportedly not interested in inviting the loser of the ACC title game.
CBSSportsline.com has the Tigers playing in the Music City Bowl vs. Kentucky on Dec. 27. Georgia Tech, which hasn't played in major bowl since 1966 faced a similar predicament. ESPN had two projections with one having the Tigers at the Gator Bowl and the other had Clemson traveling to the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29.
Sure, South Carolina will always be Clemson's main rival, but might Georgia Tech be solidifying itself as Clemson's main ACC league rival though they play in opposite divisions?
With Saturday's close contest, 12 of the last 15 games in the series have been decided by five points or less.
And no, we are not talking about the Clemson kicking game. The Raymond James Stadium turf appeared to be in less-than-ideal condition, with Jacoby Ford slipping on the first play from scrimmage. Clemson kicker Richard Jackson also lost his footing on a 52-yard field goal attempt that fell short in the first quarter.
Heavy rains hit the area on Friday. The Stadium is home to the NFL's Buccaneers, which have played five home games.
Clemson tight end Michael Palmer set the school record for tight end receptions in a season (41) Saturday. John McMakin caught 40 passes in 1970. Palmer has emerged as Clemson's top intermediate target and Parker's safety blanket this season.
Attendance appeared to be better than last season's game, with the lower bowl of Raymond James Stadium completely full. Clemson sold out its ticket allotment. Georgia Tech did not. It was announced that 57,227 were sold or distributed. It was estimated only 27,000 attended last season's title game in Tampa.
The Morgan effect
After Derrick Morgan blew by former Clemson right tackle Cory Lambert for three first-half sacks in the first meeting, Clemson's right tackles Landon Walker and David Smith shut Lambert out of the sack department Saturday until sacking Parker on the final fourth-and-2 play.
Clemson guard Mason Cloy had to be carted off the field late in the fourth quarter with a right leg injury. Cloy was the team's starting center until being replaced by Dalton Freeman prior to the Wake Forest game. Georgia Tech also lost a lineman in left tackle Phil Smith, who left the game in the first quarter with a leg injury and didn't return.
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