CLEMSON - Georgia, Florida State, South Carolina. Yeah, you get it. You've heard about that trifecta of tests a million times.
Let's not forget another tricky task for the Tigers in 2014: the nemesis that is Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Clemson is empty in its past four tries at Georgia Tech, losing by 1, 10, 3 and 14 points in odd years between 2005-11. All-time, Clemson's got just 13 victories in 58 trips to Atlanta . . . when taking on the Yellow Jackets, that is.
Credit Clemson for being much stronger away from Memorial Stadium of late - its eight-game road/neutral winning streak from Sept. 29, 2012 through Nov. 30, 2013 was the program's longest in 34 years.
The Tigers are 10-2 road or neutral in the past two years, and they're on a 7-game ACC road winning streak - the program's longest since a 9-game tear spanning 1981-84. (Eight of those were in true road settings, plus a neutral date with Wake Forest in Tokyo to close 1982.)
So of course there's reason to believe this trip to the Dodd will be different. Of course, plenty of that depends on how prepared the hosts are to garner revenge after last year's 55-31 beatdown under the lights of Death Valley.
Opponent preview No. 1: Georgia
Opponent preview No. 2: S.C. State
Opponent preview No. 3: Florida State
Opponent preview No. 4: North Carolina
Opponent preview No. 5: North Carolina State
Opponent preview No. 6: Louisville
Opponent preview No. 7: Boston College
Opponent preview No. 8: Syracuse
Opponent preview No. 9: Wake Forest
Game 10: No. 22* Clemson at Georgia Tech, Nov. 15, time and TV TBD
Georgia Tech coach: Paul Johnson (48-32, 7th season)
Returning starters: 11 (six offense, five defense)
2013 record: 7-6, 5-3 ACC; T-2nd ACC Coastal
Scoring offense: 35.1 points per game (26th in FBS)
Scoring defense: 22.8 points allowed (t-29th)
Series: Georgia Tech leads 50-27-2, including 43-13-2 in Atlanta
Last meeting: Clemson 55, Georgia Tech 31 (Nov. 14, 2013)
Golden Nugget line: Clemson by 6
Opposing beat writer to follow: @ajcgatech
Three things to know about Georgia Tech
1. No other option: The schedule smiled on Clemson in this case, as the Tigers turn their attention to Georgia Tech's triple option attack two days early thanks to that Thursday nighter in Wake Forest the first week of November. When Clemson had 12 days to prepare for the Yellow Jackets' visit last fall, Tech had just 248 rushing yards, more than 50 yards below its season average. By far the team's three most prominent rushers last year - senior tailbacks David Sims and Robert Godhigh, plus quarterback Vad Lee, who transferred - are gone, meaning others will have to step up. You know they will in a system offense, but questions abound for a unit that's been in the nation's top six rushing offenses each of the past five years.
2. Playing to matchups: Ted Roof is in his second year as defensive coordinator, and he's bounced around since leading Duke from 2003-07: he guided the defense at Minnesota, Auburn, Penn State and Georgia Tech within six years (plus he was briefly hired at UCF in between Auburn and Penn State), and only in the past two seasons has he molded a top-60 defense. The nickel defense is an interesting formation each day in practice against that triple option, and last year it produced no resistance against Clemson's spread attack - to the tune of 556 total yards and 55 points. Jeremiah Attaochu was a fun name to say but not a fun one to block (12.5 sacks in 2013); he's graduated, so Georgia Tech needs to find more playmakers.
3. Beat somebody: Since losing to Iowa in the 2010 Orange Bowl, Georgia Tech is a paltry 1-8 against ranked opponents, which actually have consisted of the same four foes: Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami and Georgia. Of course, here's the obligatory reminder that the one win came against No. 6 Clemson in 2011, at Bobby Dodd Stadium, so the Tigers better beware. But basically, Georgia Tech's been an average program the past four years, and Clemson believes it has put to bed the Clemsoning verb, so the Tigers should prove they're better than average programs, no matter the venue.
Week before: @Wake Forest
Next week: Georgia State
On the horizon: South Carolina
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