Dominating Duke

Clemson running back James Davis probably won't be guaranteeing a victory this time, but his prediction last week helped boost the Tigers back into the Top 25.

The 25th-ranked Tigers will try to hand Duke its 23rd straight ACC defeat when the teams meet Saturday in Durham, N.C.

Davis declared, "We're going to win, guaranteed," early last week and then ran for 129 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 30-17 victory over Maryland. The Tigers (6-2, 3-2) led 30-3 in the fourth quarter, a week after a 70-14 win over Central Michigan.

Davis said he made his guarantee in response to Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who said he "expects to win." But he said he won't be making those kinds of declarations any more.

"I won't be doing that again," Davis said. "That's a lot of pressure."

Of course, a guarantee against Duke (1-7, 0-5) might not sound quite as bold. The Blue Devils' only win this season came at Northwestern on Sept. 15 and they rank last in the ACC in both total offense (289.6 yards per game) and total defense (450.2).

However, Duke's last conference victory came against Clemson on Nov. 13, 2004, a 16-13 win in the teams' last meeting in Durham. The Blue Devils are just 2-30 since then, with only one home victory.

The Blue Devils have split their last eight home games with the Tigers, but Clemson leads the all-time series 33-16-1.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Clemson -16.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on Clemson -16.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

This time around, Duke will be trying to slow down a Clemson rushing attack that ranks second in the league with 168.5 yards per contest. Davis is tied for second in the ACC with 85.0 rushing yards per game, while C.J. Spiller is averaging 50.8 per game.

Spiller rushed for 106 yards against the Terrapins, and he and Davis had 100 rushing yards in the same game for a school-record fourth time. Kenny Flowers and Stacy Driver reached 100 yards in the same game three times between 1983-85.

Clemson is 31-1 under coach Tommy Bowden when rushing for at least 200 yards.

Cullen Harper also had a big day, throwing two touchdown passes to tie the single-season school record of 21 set by Woodrow Dantzler in 2001 and matched by Charlie Whitehurst in 2003. Cullen, who was 20-of-26 for 179 yards, ranks first in the ACC in TDs and second behind Boston College's Matt Ryan with 247.8 passing yards per game.

"It motivated us, first and foremost," Harper said of Davis' guarantee. "But words don't win a game. We came out here and we backed James up and backed up what he said. He ran the ball extremely physical tonight. He came out here with something to prove."

Clemson is third in the ACC's Atlantic Division, a game behind No. 21 Wake Forest and 1 1/2 in back of second-ranked BC. The Tigers host the Demon Deacons on Nov. 10 and the Eagles the week after.

The Blue Devils are coming off last Saturday's 25-6 loss at Florida State. Duke managed only 49 yards and two first downs in the first half and had just 222 yards in the game to Florida State's 534.

Thaddeus Lewis, who ranks fourth in the ACC with 226.0 passing yards per game and third with 17 TDs, connected with Brandon King on a scoring pass in the fourth quarter to help the Blue Devils avoid a shutout.

"I was proud of the effort," coach Ted Roof told Duke's official Web site. "There is no quit in this football team. We have got to find ways to get first downs and possess the football so that we are not playing on short fields and things of that nature."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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