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TCI Game Day: Pitt at No. 2 Clemson

Oct 29, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA;  Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) makes a signal to the crowd after a touchdown during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Game Day in Memorial Stadium as No. 2 Clemson battles Pittsburgh in an ACC showdown as the Tigers look to win the Atlantic Division and advance to the ACC Championship Game in Orlando.

Location: Clemson Memorial Stadium (Death Valley)

Kickoff:  3:36 p.m.

Television:  ABC

Announcers:  Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay

2016 Record: Clemson  9-0,  Pitt 5-4

ACC Record: Clemson 6-0,  Pitt 2-3

Series History: Pitt leads 1-0

Last Meeting:  Pitt won 34-3 in 1977 at the Gator Bowl

Panthers Make First Trip to Clemson

Pittsburgh is making is first trip to Clemson. These Panthers from Pennsylvania are actually the second straight school named Panthers making a first time appearance here. The last team to come to Clemson for the first time was the Georgia State Panthers in 2014. That year three schools played at Clemson for the first time (also Syracuse and Louisville).

Pittsburgh is the 57th different team to come to Memorial Stadium and the Tigers are 42-13-1 (.758) against those teams when the visitor is making its first appearance. But, it has been especially difficult to beat Clemson in the first meeting since 1978. In the last 39 years Clemson is 26-2 (.929) against teams making their first appearance in Memorial Stadium.

First Matchup of Former ACC Players of the Year

Saturday’s game features a first in ACC history as both teams have a player on their roster who has already won ACC Player of the Year honors. Pittsburgh running back James Conner won the award in 2014 and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson won the honor in 2015.

Conner is one of the great comeback stories in football this year. He won the ACC Player of the Year Award in 2014, then missed the 2015 season after enduring a torn ACL and Hodgkin lymphoma. He was declared cancer free this past May. In 2014,

Muse Was Loose

Clemson freshman Tanner Muse scored his first career touchdown in dramatic fashion in Clemson’s 54-0 win over Syracuse last Saturday. On a Syracuse pass over the middle that was tipped four times Muse alertly picked off the ball before it hit the ground and sped 64 yards for a touchdown. The play was named ESPN SportsCenter Play of the Day on Saturday night.

Clemson Looks for Sixth Straight 10-Win Season

A victory for Clemson over Pittsburgh will give the Tigers a 10-0 record and assure Clemson of a sixth straight season with at least 10 victories. Clemson would become just the 11th different school in college football history (current FBS schools) to have six consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins. Heading into this season Clemson and Alabama were the only schools with an active streak of at least five 10-win seasons. The Crimson Tide are also primed to extend their streak, which is eight consecutive years entering this season. The record for consecutive 10-win seasons is 14 years in a row set by Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles (1987-02).

Gallman Nearing 3,000

Clemson junior running back Wayne Gallman has a chance to set a school record and eclipse a major milestone this week. The native of Grayson, Georgia enters the Pittsburgh game with 2,930 career rushing yards and needs just 70 to become the sixth player in Clemson history to reach 3,000 yards in a career. He also needs just one 100-yard rushing game to establish the Clemson career mark for career 100-yard games. He has 15, the same amount Raymond Priester had for the Tigers between 1994-97.

Long Drives

Clemson had not had a drive over 85 yards all season entering the Syracuse game. Then, in the second period the Tigers had three consecutive drives of at least 86 yards, all for touchdowns. First the Tigers went 95 yards in just two plays in 31 seconds on the first possession of the second period. Wayne Gallman rank 30 yards, then Deshaun Watson hit Deon Cain on a 65-yard touchdown pass.

Then Clemson went 89 yards in 12 plays in five minutes, a drive that culminated with a 14-yard scoring pass from Watson to Mike Williams. On the very next drive Clemson went 86 yards in 14 plays on a 5:03 drive that finished with a five yard scoring pass from Nick Schuessler to Artavis Scott. Clemson had another 80-yard scoring drive in the second half.

So Clemson’s three longest scoring drives of the year in terms of yardage took place on consecutive drives in the second period of the Syracuse game.

Schuessler Plays Best Game

Fifth year senior quarterback Nick Schuessler came off the bench to play 32 snaps in Clemson’s 54-0 win over Syracuse. Starter Deshaun Watson suffered a shoulder injury and Schuessler played very well in relief. The native of Grayson, Georgia connected on 11-17 passes for 177 yards and two scores without an interception. It was the first time since the season finale of 2014 that someone other than Deshaun Watson led Clemson in passing yardage. Schuessler connected on a five-yard scoring pass to Artavis Scott in the second period, then found Deon Cain on an 18-yard scoring pass in the third period. He finished with a 65 percent completion percentage and a passing efficiency rating of 190. For the year, Schuessler is 19-29 for 303 yards and three touchdowns. His efficiency rating is 187 and his completion percentage 65.5.

 

TCI Predictions 

Robert – Clemson 57 Pitt 24

Gavin – Clemson 49 Pitt 14

Will – Clemson 45  Pitt 10

Qualk – Clemson 59 Pitt 24

 

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