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CLEMSON – The lights are on, and the coats are out.
Expect a chilly night normally reserved for a little bit further up the coast tonight, but no rain or wind when No. 8 Clemson (8-1, 6-1 ACC) looks to make a statement against Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2.) Kickoff is set for 7:31 p.m., televised by ESPN.
Don’t be surprised if it’s a late-arriving crowd this evening. On the streets flanking Memorial Stadium three hours before start time, the fan flow was slower than normal, and ticket scalpers were lowering their rates as spectators attempt to reach campus at the end of a work day and determine whether to brave the cold (kickoff temperature is expected to be in the high 40s.)
Clemson would be wise to stick to the passing game if it can, given the elements. The Yellow Jackets rank 10th in the nation stopping the run, but are 53rd through the air.
Defensively, the Tigers’ much-improve rush defense will face a stiff test tonight, against a team that’s handed Clemson its season-worst yardage amount on the ground in each of the past four years.
History gives the edge to Clemson, winner of 16 consecutive games against unranked opponents – all by double digits. Georgia Tech has not beaten a ranked opponent itself on the road since 2008, when it defeated No. 13 Georgia 45-42 in Athens. Overall, Tech has lost seven straight games to ranked foes.
However, beware: Clemson was the last ranked team Georgia Tech beat. When the Tigers were No. 6 in the country and 8-0 late in 2011. That game was in Atlanta.
The Tigers will be a tad shorthanded; it was announced two and a half hours before kickoff that freshman tight end Jordan Leggett (10 catches, 89 yards, two TD) is suspended for tonight’s game due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Head coach Dabo Swinney indicated it is a one-game punishment.
Leggett’s not the only one missing tonight’s game. According to a few TV reports on Twitter, ESPN’s Maria Taylor will be the sideline reporter in place of Samantha Ponder.