Recent surveys show most college-aged males don't road trip to Miami for the popcorn. They prefer South Beach clubs, various Fort Lauderdale competitions and "Swamp Wars" reptiles, not necessarily in that order.

But the Clemson football team will spend the evening before next Wednesday night's Orange Bowl game against West Virginia watching a movie in a Miami theater.

As the Tigers found out against South Carolina, you just don't mess with film routine.

"Movie time is a time for us to relax," Clemson defensive end and resident film critic Kourtnei Brown said from South Florida. "We're all together, the whole team. We're not worried about football and we're just laughing a lot."

Pre-game movie outings are hardly unique to Clemson, but the Tigers go at it with a passion.

"We each get popcorn and a drink," said Brown, a grad student from Charlotte. "It's pretty cool."

Equipment manager Alphonso Smith makes the theater arrangements. Smith and head coach Dabo Swinney run a few movie options by a group of veteran players before making a Friday night selection.

The reviews are in: The 2011 Clemson Film Festival gets two thumbs up.

Overall theme: Eerie coincidence.

Hollywood celluloid seemed to foreshadow Saturday reality.

The Tigers saw "The Debt" before paying off loyal fans who hung in there during a close call against Wofford on Sept. 10.

Brown and his fellow Tigers watched Matt Damon-driven "Contagion" before whipping Auburn on Sept. 17 to start an outbreak of success.

Life imitates art

Next came back-to-back wins over ranked ACC foes.

Opponent: Florida State at Clemson, Sept. 24.

Movie: "Killer Elite"

Stars: Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, Clive Owen.

Plot summary: Super agents clash with veteran bad guys.

Kourtnei Brown: "Wow, that was a good one. Robert De Niro was great, and so was that guy named

Jason. I love action. That's the No. 1 thing I look for in a movie: Action."

Game result: Tigers win, 35-30.

Movie/game similarity: Lots of action.

And …

Opponent: Virginia Tech at Blacksburg, Oct. 1.

Movie: "Moneyball"

Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill.

Plot summary: Former Charleston resident Billy Beane turns the small-market Oakland A's into a big league contender.

Kourtnei Brown: "Less action in that movie, but it was great. All that stuff about baseball statistics showed you can put together a very good team even with players that aren't as good as the players other teams have. The key is looking away from batting averages and focusing on how often you get to first base, and stuff like that."

Game result: Tigers win, 23-3.

Movie/game similarity: "The players on our team realized we had been through a lot but that we could come together and win," Brown said of Clemson's breakout victory.

Clemson after seeing the frightening "Dream House" made a Death Valley home game scary for North Carolina throughout a 59-38 win.

But after "In Time" entertainment, the Tigers' defense was poorly timed at Georgia Tech.

Clemson players wanted to climb into the top five of the national rankings, but all hopes were stolen at N.C. State the night after seeing "Tower Heist."

And then a real horror production: No film.

Orange Bowl mission

Opponent: South Carolina at Columbia, Nov. 26.

Movie: None. In a rare departure, the players took part in a Williams-Brice Stadium walkthrough instead of a movie.

Game result: Gamecocks romp, 34-13.

Movie/game similarity: One team didn't show up.

The Tigers made sure to go out for popcorn in Charlotte.

Opponent: Virginia Tech at ACC championship game, Dec. 3.

Movie: "Jack and Jill"

Stars: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Sandler again (as the twin sister of the main character).

Plot summary: Thanksgiving family gathering with a twist.

Kourtnei Brown: "I did not like it. Nobody did. Not at all."

Game result: Tigers roll, 38-10.

Movie/game similarity: Roll with the punches.

The pre-Orange Bowl movie pick hasn't been made yet but here are a few tips mined from a themed season.

Consider "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" or "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."

Avoid "The Darkest Hour."

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or