Georgia Tech visits seventh-ranked Clemson for a pivotal Atlantic Coast Conference matchup tonight in Death Valley.
On the heels of a 38-24 comeback victory over Wake Forest last week, Georgia Tech has won four of its last five games and stands alone in second place in the ACC Coastal Division standings, a game behind No. 8 Miami.
Clemson is coming off an open week, which comes after its first defeat of the season, a 27-24 loss at Syracuse on Oct. 13. The Tigers are a half-game behind NC State for first place in the ACC Atlantic.
Where: Clemson Memorial Stadium (a.k.a. Death Valley)
Records: Clemson 6-1, 4-1 ACC; Georgia Tech 4-2, 3-1 ACC
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: ABC (regionally); ESPN2 (nationally)
Radio: 105.5 in the Upstate (Clemson Tigers Radio Network); SiriusXM Radio Ch. 84
Latest Line: Clemson favored by 16 points
Series: Georgia Tech leads the series 52-29-2
First meeting: Clemson won 23-0 in 1898 (played in Augusta, Ga.)
Last year: Clemson won 26-7 in Atlanta
Injury Report: Out for Season: Richard Yeargin, DE, Neck; Logan Rudolph, DE, Shoulder; Cole Renfrow, TE, Knee; Greg Huegel, PK, Knee. Out this Game: Garrett Williams, TE, knee; Marcus Edmond, CB, foot; Mark Fields, CB, foot; Nolan Turner, S, concussion protocol. Will Play: Kelly Bryant, QB, ankle.
Three story lines
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant will play on Saturday, according to the school’s official injury report which was released on Thursday night. However, how effective the junior will be is still unknown. Bryant was cleared to play in Clemson’s loss to Syracuse on Oct. 13, but it was obvious from the beginning he was not completely healthy. Bryant, who was averaging 19 carries a game in wins over Auburn, Louisville, Boston College and Virginia Tech, did not attempt a designed run at all against the Orange. Earlier in the week, Bryant said he was just 85 percent healthy.
The Tigers’ defense has shutdown Georgia Tech’s triple option rushing attack the last two years, holding the Rambling Wreck to just 2.1 yards per carry combined and 83 yards per game. Can that continue?
If Bryant is not a part of the game plan, do the Tigers lean on running backs Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne to get the job done on the ground? The two averaged a combined 10.8 yards per carry and rushed for 125 yards on 12 attempts in the loss at Syracuse.
Georgia Tech players to watch
TaQuon Marshall, QB: Marshall leads the ACC in rushing at 117.3 yards per game. He also tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (11) and leads the conference in scoring as well. He has thrown the ball just 51 times, while completing 27 passes for 456 yards and five touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception in six games thus far.
KirVonte Benson, RB: Benson ranks second in the ACC in rushing at 108.7 yards per game. He has five touchdowns and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Benson is the B-Back in Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense and is known as the dive guy. He is the first option in Tech’s triple-option offense.
Victor Alexander, LB: Alexander has started each of the last five games and has responded with seven tackles against Jacksonville State, five against North Carolina, five at Miami and a team-high-tying six last Saturday against Wake Forest.
Georgia Tech Scouting Report
Both of Georgia Tech’s defeats this season have come by just one point — a 42-41, double-overtime loss to Tennessee in the season opener and a 25-24 defeat at Miami on Oct. 14. Georgia Tech is the only FBS team with multiple one-point losses this season and the first ACC team with multiple one-point losses in a season since 2006.
With 11 rushing touchdowns in only six games this season, Marshall is only the third quarterback in Georgia Tech history with double-digit rushing touchdowns in a single season, joining current Tech graduate assistant Tevin Washington (20 in 2012, 14 in 2011) and Joshua Nesbitt (18 in 2009, 10 in 2010).
Georgia Tech ranks fifth nationally in both offensive (.511) and defensive (.246) third-down conversion percentage.
Georgia Tech’s 30.17 penalty yards per game are the fewest in the nation. The Yellow Jackets’ 3.83 penalties per game are the fourth-fewest nationally.
Of the 360 minutes that Georgia Tech has played in regulation this season, it has only trailed for 37:25. The Yellow Jackets have trailed for just 5:01 of 180 regulation minutes played after halftime.
Georgia Tech has not committed a turnover in its last 156 offensive plays, spanning 25 offensive series, since losing a fumble in the third quarter of its 33-7 win over North Carolina on Sept. 30. By comparison, the Yellow Jackets had eight turnovers over their first 284 offensive plays of the season (one every 35.5 snaps).