By Will Vandervort
Here is an inside look at the Virginia-Clemson series as the ninth-ranked Clemson Tigers visit the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. The game will be televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 3:35 p.m.
About the Virginia Cavaliers: Virginia has thrown 332 passes already this season, including 61 in last week’s loss to Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers have been their own worst enemy with 16 turnovers – 7 fumbles and nine interceptions.
The Virginia offense: Virginia’s David Waterford has thrown for 1,715 yards and seven touchdowns this year, but he has also tossed nine interceptions. Last week he threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns, while setting school records in completions (43) and attempts (61) for one game. Kevin Parks is one of the best runners in the conference. Not only is his 614 yards and nine touchdowns this year lead the Cavaliers, but he also has caught 29 passes out of the backfield for 285 yards and another score, which ranks second on the squad.
The Virginia defense: Defensive end Eli Harold has eight tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks to lead Virginia. Fellow defensive end Jake Snyder has four passes broken up. The Cavaliers have 18 sacks this season. Middle linebacker Henry Coley leads the Cavaliers with 64 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss. Daquan Romero, who was Boyd’s tight end in high school, is second on the team with 62 tackles despite missing one game. He has five tackles for loss. The two starters have not recorded a sack this year. Anthony Harris leads the country in interceptions with five from his strong safety position, but only reserve corner Demetrius Nicholson has the only other interception on the squad. The Cavaliers rank fourth in the ACC in pass efficiency defense and passing yards allowed, though.
The Virginia Special Teams: The Cavaliers’ Alec Vozenilek is 0-3 on kicks from 40 yards or more, but backup kicker Ian Frye has made a season-long 53-yard kick. Vozenilek also handles the punting chores for Virginia and he is averaging 41 yards per punt which includes 19 fair catches and 16 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Records: Clemson 7-1, 5-1 ACC; Virginia 2-6, 0-4 ACC
Series record: Clemson leads the series 37-8-1
Last meeting: Clemson won 34-21 in 2009
Last Virginia win: 2004, 30-10
Stat worth noting: Clemson won the first 29 games of the series before Virginia cracked the win column with a 20-7 victory in Charlottesville in 1990. Ironically, Clemson’s first win in the history of the series (in 1955) was also by a 20-7 score. Clemson’s 29-game winning streak between 1955-89 is tied for the fourth longest winning streak in NCAA history for one team over another. The record is 43 in a row held by Notre Dame over Navy, a streak that ended in 2007.
Second stat worth noting: This will be the first time Clemson has played Virginia since 2009 and the first time Clemson has played at Virginia since 2008. A look to the future ACC schedules indicates this will be Clemson’s only appearance at Virginia between 2009 and at least 2025. The Clemson conference schedule of rotating Coastal Division opponents has been released through 2024 and a trip to Virginia is not on it. Virginia is scheduled to come to Clemson in 2020.
Third stat worth noting: Overall, Clemson is 27-3-1 against Virginia in October and November all-time, but just 10-5 against the Cavs in September. Clemson is 20-3-1 against Virginia in Death Valley and 16-5 in Charlottesville. Clemson won in Richmond in 1971, 32-15, the only neutral site game in the history of the series.
Memorable game: The only tie in the series took place in 1991, a 20-20 score at Clemson that was played on homecoming. The Tigers had 511 yards of total offense in that game and did not win, the only game in Clemson history in which Clemson picked up at least 500 yards, yet did not win the game. The late Wayne Simmons blocked a field goal on the last play of the game to salvage a tie for Clemson. The Tigers trailed 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Clemson went onto to win its next six games after that to win the 1991 ACC Championship.