Who: The Citadel (5-6) at No. 7 Clemson (9-1)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Radio: 1450-AM, 1340-AM, 950-AM
Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said Monday he’s got a lot of respect for his counterpart at Clemson, Dabo Swinney. He particularly likes the way Swinney has worked out the final weeks of the Tigers’ 2013 football schedule.
“They saw us on the schedule, so they made sure they got another option team, Georgia Tech, the week before,” said Higgins, whose Bulldogs play at No. 7 Clemson on Saturday. “And then they moved the Georgia Tech game up to Thursday, so they’d have more time to prepare for The Citadel.
“It’s amazing what Dabo will do to gain an advantage.”
Higgins, of course, had tongue planted firmly in cheek as he contemplated The Citadel’s monumental task in Saturday’s noon game at Death Valley. The Bulldogs (5-6) will be heavy underdogs against the 9-1 Tigers, who are preparing for their Nov. 30 showdown against rival South Carolina.
The Bulldogs have lost their last five games against FBS teams by an average score of 51-13, and fell 45-17 in their last visit to Clemson in 2008. This will be the Tigers’ second game against an FCS squad this season; they defeated South Carolina State, 52-13, on Sept. 7.
Higgins, in his ninth season at The Citadel, compares this Clemson team to the 2008 Florida squad that beat his Bulldogs, 70-19, on the way to a national championship.
That Gators team was coached by Urban Meyer and featured quarterback Tim Tebow and stars such as Percy Harvin, Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps.
“That was, at that time, the best team,” Higgins said. “They won a national championship in 2006 and came back and won another in 2008. Certainly, this Clemson team compares with them.
“The thing about Clemson is they are so fast-paced, and that means more plays that we’ll have to defend with more speed. And they are concerned with where they are in the rankings, as well, so every point matters to them.”
With no FCS playoff berth in the offing for his team, Higgins said the Bulldogs will treat the Clemson game like a bowl game.
“I kind of like having the game at the end of the year,” he said. “It’s kind of like a bowl game, if you will. But you better be buckled up, because these guys are coming after you. A lot of them will be playing on Sunday afternoon, and you better be at your best when you perform against them.”
Many Citadel players watched the Tigers’ 55-31 win over Georgia Tech last Thursday. Senior fullback Darien Robinson was not one of them.
“I called my dad, and he said it was getting ugly,” Robinson said. “So I didn’t even turn it on.”
Senior cornerback Sadath Jean-Pierre — who will be tasked with covering Clemson star receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant — did watch.
“I saw they just like to air it out and let those guys go get it,” said Jean-Pierre, who made his first career interception in the Bulldogs’ 35-10 win over VMI on Saturday. “It’s going to be a real fun challenge. You see those kids on ESPN every day for making plays, and now we get to see how we match up against them.
“We’re going to play against them just like we play anybody else. We’re going to play fast and we’re going to play tough, and treat them like they are any other human beings.”
Citadel linebacker Carl Robinson will have X-rays on the knee he injured against VMI. “We’re hoping it is not an ACL,” Higgins said. Robinson tore the ACL in his other knee last season.
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Clemson. Clemson students are collecting supplies to donate to troops overseas and to families in the community in need of assistance. Clemson also will hold its first-ever “Purple Out”, inspired by the military’s Purple Heart award.