CLEMSON — Ask Dabo Swinney about the last time Clemson traveled to Virginia Tech and the Tigers’ head coach remembers it well. It was 2011, and Clemson looked dominant as it knocked off a talented Hokies team in a loud, hostile environment. But the bus ride over — from the team hotel to the stadium — was a different story.
“I remember people not giving us a chance to win. I remember that. Similar to this (year), it seemed like every week we were playing some great, ranked opponent and it was just like, ‘Dang. Here comes another one,’” Swinney said. “We go up to Blacksburg and it was cold and rainy and ... I remember it was a long ride to the stadium. I’ll never forget it.
“It seemed like (it took) forever to get there. We went down some back road, I just remember, the whole team’s asleep. I’m going, ‘We’re going to get our butts kicked.’ They’re all snoring.”
To Swinney’s knowledge, his team will be staying in the same hotel again Friday night when the No. 2 Tigers match up with the No. 12 Hokies, or at least in the same area in Roanoke, Va., about 40 miles from Blacksburg.
Aware of how loud the crowd gets at Lane Stadium, Swinney is hopeful this year’s Clemson team is a little more lively pregame for the 8 p.m. kickoff.
“It’s one of the best environments in college football, I think — not just our conference. The Virginia Tech folks do an awesome job of supporting their team,” Swinney said. “They understand that they have an opportunity to bring great energy to their team and they show up, man. It’s a credit to coach (Frank) Beamer and all the years that he was there and things he built and now to what Justin (Fuente) is doing with his team in only his second year.”
GameDay in Blacksburg
Clemson-Virginia Tech is among the biggest games in the country this week, and as such, ESPN is in Blacksburg, Va. for College GameDay. College GameDay has not been to Virginia Tech since 2007. The Hokies are 4-1 when in GameDay contests.
Status of Hokies' Alexander uncertain
The status of Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander, who has not played in the Hokies’ last two games for disciplinary reasons, is still unknown heading into Saturday. Alexander failed to meet program expectations earlier this season which led to his absence on the field.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente did not provide much insight into his situation this week. Despite only playing in two games this season, Alexander already has 14 tackles.
“No final decision,” Fuente had said Wednesday. “Still kind of working through some things and should know more as we get a little bit later in the week.”
Kelly Bryant climbing the ranks
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant is ranked third in the nation among all positions — not just quarterbacks — for rushing touchdowns with seven. Should Bryant start and win Saturday against the Hokies, he would join Tajh Boyd as the only Clemson quarterback to win each of his first three matchups against top 25 opponents. Clemson already knocked off Auburn and Louisville, both ranked in the top 15 at the time.
Tight end Garrett Williams (knee), quarterback Tucker Israel (illness), tight end D.J. Greenlee (knee) and cornerback Marcus Edmond (foot sprain) will all be out for Saturday's game. Cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen (concussion) and Mark Fields (glute muscle) are probable to play.