Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
The projected winner in the ACC starts its season with a premier matchup against Georgia.
Associated Press | File 2012
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd led the Tigers’ 25-24 rally over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to close out last season.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
On college football’s opening weekend, the marquee game in all the land will take place at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.
Three ACC teams will square off with SEC powers that weekend, including North Carolina’s visit to South Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 29, and Virginia Tech’s Georgia Dome duel with Alabama two days later.
But Clemson’s home game with Georgia at 8 p.m. on Aug. 31 features a clash of top-10 teams.
Georgia, coming off a 12-2 season, is ranked No. 5 in the USA Today coaches preseason Top 25 poll. Clemson, coming off an 11-2 season, is ranked No. 8.
“It’s a big game for both programs. Both programs have championship aspirations,” Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said two weeks ago at the ACC’s preseason football media gathering in Greensboro, N.C. “It’s a stepping-stone.
“It’s probably going to be the loudest game that I’m … ever going to be a part of, so I’m super excited. The magnitude of the game is so huge.”
Both teams have dreams of making it all the way to the national championship game.
Clemson, the preseason favorite in the ACC, returns Boyd and 11 other starters from a team that beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Georgia returns quarterback Aaron Murray and 15 other starters from a squad that has won two straight SEC East Division titles.
“I enjoy playing the big games on the big stage,” Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey said. “We’re definitely excited to be able to get something like that the first game.”
The Tigers feel they match up well with the Bulldogs in the game, which will air on ABC.
“We have everything we need at all positions — a lot of talent,” Shuey said. “Saying that, if you lose one game, that doesn’t mean your season’s over.”
The Tigers went 2-1 against the SEC last season. They opened the season at the Georgia Dome with a win over what turned out to be a bad Auburn team. Clemson finished the regular season with a loss to South Carolina but bounced back to rally past then-No. 9 LSU 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
“Coming off that big bowl game, it definitely carried a lot of momentum with us into the offseason,” Shuey said. “Being able to beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl gives us a lot of confidence … to open up with another incredible SEC team.”
Clemson trailed LSU 24-22 when Boyd and company began a drive on their own 20-yard line with 1:39 to go. Chandler Catanzaro capped the 10-play, 60-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give Clemson the win.
Boyd, last season’s ACC player of the year, threw for 346 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback.
“He needed to win a game like that,” coach Dabo Swinney said. “He stepped up in the pocket, he took some shots. He picked up some critical yardage with his legs. … And then he just made the clutch plays right into the teeth of as good a defense as we’ve seen.
“That just kind of elevated his status within our team.”
It did not change how Boyd views himself, though.
“Not necessarily,” Boyd said with a laugh. “I’ve been pretty confident in myself for awhile now.”
Boyd threw for a school-record 3,896 yards last year, when he also ran for 514 yards.
But the opposing quarterback in Clemson’s opener is no slouch, either.
Murray passed for a school-record 3,893 yards for Georgia last year. He capped the season by throwing five touchdown passes in a Capital One Bowl win over Nebraska.
“He’s a great quarterback and we’ll definitely have to game-plan around him, knowing he could make all sorts of throws,” Shuey said. “But we also have a great quarterback.
“Having Tajh on our team and practicing against that will definitely help us going into that first game.”
The Tigers hope to be as sharp as possible in the opener.
“There’s going to be mistakes by Georgia, there’s going to be mistakes by Clemson. That’s the one thing about playing a game like that. You don’t get any preseason games like you get in the NFL to kind of work all the kinks out,” Swinney said.
“We’ve got to try to be at midseason form and executing on all cylinders right out of the gate.”
The Tigers must also end the regular season against an SEC and national heavyweight. South Carolina, ranked No. 7 in the preseason coaches poll, hosts Clemson on Nov. 30.
Boyd, though, is hoping for a special season.
“We’re capable of greatness.” he said.
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us