Tigers Believing Again
Clemson entered the season with its highest ranking since 1991, and appeared capable of contending for its first BCS bowl and perhaps the national championship.
Though those goals may have seemed unlikely after a disheartening season-opening loss, three straight blowout wins have the Tigers believing again.
The 20th-ranked Tigers continue their quest for their first ACC title in 17 years as they return to conference play by hosting Maryland on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Clemson -10.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Clemson –10.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Clemson (3-1, 1-0) came in at No. 9 in the preseason poll, the first time it cracked the top 10 since finishing the 1991 season ranked ninth.
The Tigers, though, quickly fell out of the Top 25 after losing to Alabama 34-10 on Aug. 30. They were outgained 419-188, thanks in part to a much-hyped rushing attack that netted zero yards.
Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper called that defeat a wake-up call, and it appears to have yielded the desired results. The Tigers have outscored opponents 126-26 to win their last three games.
"I think after week one, they've done all you can ask them to do," coach Tommy Bowden said. "I'd say right now, we're right on track."
Clemson continued its resurgence with a 54-0 rout of South Carolina State last Saturday - its first shutout since beating Louisiana Tech 51-0 on Sept. 30, 2006.
"Alabama, that was a tough loss," defensive back Chris Chancellor said. "But we just put that behind us, and each week we've progressed."
Clemson has bounced back thanks in part to the resurgence of its dynamic rushing tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The duo was held to 20 yards and no touchdowns against Alabama, but has totaled 435 yards and eight TDs in the last three games.
"We set ourselves up pretty good with this game, got a little momentum," Davis said after running 11 times for 95 yards and three touchdowns last weekend. "I think we've put ourselves in position to get ready for ACC play."
The Tigers, who entered the season as runaway favorites to win the ACC crown, beat North Carolina State 27-9 in their conference opener Sept. 13. They're hoping to win the conference for the first time since they went 6-0-1 against ACC rivals in 1991.
"I feel like going into conference play, everybody's going to be a little more hyped, everybody's going to play a little bit harder," safety Michael Hamlin said.
Clemson may need that additional boost against a surprising Maryland team. The Terrapins (3-1, 0-0) got off to a slow start, barely holding on for a 14-7 win over Delaware before losing 24-14 to Middle Tennessee State, but have totaled 86 points in winning their last two contests.
They followed up a 35-27 victory over then-No. 23 California with a 51-24 win over Eastern Michigan last Saturday. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and ran twice for 81 yards to lead a Maryland offense that recorded its highest point total since Sept. 25, 2004 and its highest yardage total (486) since Nov. 12, 2005.
The Terps put together their best offensive performance in years despite playing without running back Da'Rel Scott, who was sidelined by a shoulder injury. Scott, who ranks fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 135.7 rushing yards per game, could return against Clemson.
That would likely please coach Ralph Friedgen, who didn't panic after his team's early struggles.
"I would love to be 4-0," Friedgen said. "Maybe we learned some things along the way. I see us getting better."
That's good news for the Terps, who visit Virginia next Saturday before hosting No. 16 Wake Forest the following week. The tough upcoming schedule was a topic of conversation in Maryland's locker room after last week's win.
"I brought up Clemson, I brought up Virginia and I brought up Wake Forest," Friedgen said. "I said this is a very big stretch for us. We need to put all our focus into playing the best we can right now. If we do well, we'll be right in the mix. It starts next Saturday down there in Death Valley."
Maryland, which was 3-5 in conference play in 2007, has won two of its last three road games against Clemson, including a 13-12 victory over the 19th-ranked Tigers in 2006. Clemson, though, has won three of four overall to take a 30-24-2 advantage in the all-time series.
KEY INJURIES FOR THIS GAME
[QB] Jordan Steffy downgraded to expected to miss at least 3 weeks. - Thum
(!) [RB] Da"Rel Scott is downgraded to doubtful. - Shoulder - 09/17/08
[WR] Kevin Dorsey is expected to miss entire season - Foot - 09/05/08
[WR] LaQuan Williams is downgraded to expected to miss - Foot - 09/16/08
[DE] Mack Frost is doubtful - Knee - 09/16/08
[NT] Travis Ivey expected to miss 3-6 weeks - Foot - 08/13/08
[DB] Richard Taylor injured last game, expected to miss - Knee - 09/15/08
[FS] Terrell Skinner is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. - Ankle - 09/10/08
[WR] Terrence Ashe missed last game - Ankle - 09/13/08
[OL] Barry Humphries is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. - Knee - 09/04/08
[OT] Chris Hairston missed last game - Knee - 09/13/08
[OT] Rashaad Jackson is out indefinitely. - Quad - 09/05/08
[DT] Jamie Cumbie likely to miss rest of season - Wrist - 09/04/08
[DE] Ricky Sapp missed last game, upgraded to probable. - Knee - 09/17/08
BETTING TRENDS FOR THIS GAME
CLEMSON is 8-7 against the spread versus MARYLAND since 1992
CLEMSON is 11-5 straight up against MARYLAND since 1992
7 of 8 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
CLEMSON is 1-1 against the spread versus MARYLAND over the last 3 seasons
CLEMSON is 1-1 straight up against MARYLAND over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
MARYLAND is 4-3 against the spread versus CLEMSON since 1992
CLEMSON is 5-2 straight up against MARYLAND since 1992
3 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
MARYLAND is 1-0 against the spread versus CLEMSON over the last 3 seasons
MARYLAND is 1-0 straight up against CLEMSON over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons