Countdown to Kickoff: Duke at No. 2 Clemson
The biggest senior class Dabo Swinney has ever had in his 10-plus seasons at Clemson will be honored prior to the start of Saturday’s game at Death Valley.
In all, 23 seniors, plus a few juniors who have already earned their college degrees, or will next month, will individually run down the Hill and be honored for what has been a record-breaking career for the 2018 seniors.
Also prior to its game against Duke, Clemson will celebrate its rich military history, as well as honoring those who have served in our Armed Forces with a Military Appreciation Day ceremony.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
Records: Clemson 10-0, 7-0 ACC; Duke 7-3, 3-3 ACC
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Radio: 105.5 in the Upstate (Clemson Tigers Radio Network); Sirius XM Radio Ch. 134; 194
Latest Line: Clemson (minus-28.5)
Series: Clemson leads the series 36-16-1
Streak: Clemson has won four straight
Last meeting: November 3, 2012, Clemson won 56-20 in Durham, N.C.
Three story lines
Clemson’s 2018 senior class can be one of the most decorated classes in school, conference and national history. Last week, the group tied Clemson’s 2017 seniors with its 50th win in a four-year span, matching the ACC record set by the 2017 class. The 2018 seniors can stand alone in ACC and Clemson history with their 51st win on Saturday. Clemson can become just the second school to produce a 51-win class, joining Alabama, which has produced classes of 53 wins (2014-17) and 51 wins (2013-16 and 201518).
Saturday’s game will be Clemson’s 25th Military Appreciation Day. The history of the special day dates to 1994 when Clemson had a special flyover for the Clemson vs. Georgia Tech game on Nov. 12, just one day after Veteran’s Day. Clemson had a flyover of four F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base during pregame as the highlight of the celebration that day. Clemson has celebrated its military history every year since with the games held in November or when Clemson plays host to a school with its own military heritage. Clemson has a 20-4 record in the previous 24 Military Appreciation Day games. The Tigers have won 10 such games in a row, with the last loss coming against Virginia Tech in 2007.
The Tigers have an opportunity to start a season 11-0 for just the fourth time in Clemson history with a win on Saturday. Clemson went 11-0 in 1948, including a win in the 1949 Gator Bowl. The 1981 team finished the regular season 11-0 before going on and winning the 1982 Orange Bowl for a 12-0 finish and the school’s first national championship. The 2015 team also started the year 11-0 before going 14-0 and advancing the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. They finished the regular season 12-0.
Duke players to watch
Danile Jones, QB: Jones put up 547 total yards against North Carolina last week, including 186 rushing yards, a record for a Duke quarterback. Jones is mostly known for his ability to throw the football, not run it. Though he has rushed for 327 yards this year and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, he ranks third in the ACC in passing yards per game (243.5). He is fourth in completion percentage (61.0) and fourth in touchdown passes (16).
Deon Jackson, RB: Over the last three weeks, Jackson has totaled 646 all-purpose yards on 47 touches, good for an average of 13.8 yards per touch. His yardage has come via rush (41-353), reception (7-112) and kickoff return (9-181).
T.J. Rahming, WR: He has caught 3-plus passes in 17 consecutive games dating back to last season. In 47 career games, Rahming has 231 receptions for 2,626 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Duke scouting report
Clemson will be the first ranked opponent the Blue Devils have played this season.
Duke will be making its first trip to the state of South Carolina for a football game since facing Clemson on November 15, 2008.
Duke’s 313 points are more than the Blue Devils totaled in any of the 13 seasons (1995-2007) before head coach David Cutcliffe took over the program. The Blue Devils are just 43 points away from the program’s top 5-point total in a single season.
Duke averages 30.1 points per game after averaging 26.5 in 2017 and 23.3 in 2016. The Blue Devils averaged 30.0 or more points per game just seven other times in program history.
Duke has surpassed 2,400 passing yards and 1,700 rushing yards on the season with 2,456 and 1,742. The Blue Devils join Clemson (2,749 pass/2,517 rush), Syracuse (2,661 pass/2,161 rush) and Wake Forest (2,358 pass/2,158 rush) as the only ACC programs to reach the markers. The Blue Devils’ play selection is equally balanced with 372 rushes and 352 passes.
With quarterback Quentin Harris’ two-yard touchdown rush versus North Carolina, the Blue Devils have two quarterbacks with 11 or more touchdowns responsible for. Harris has 11 (7 4 rush/7 pass) while Jones has 18 (2 rush/16 pass).
Jones turned in the third 300-100 game in program history last Saturday against North Carolina with 361 yards passing and 186 rushing. Jones owns two of Duke’s three 300-100 performances with one versus Northwestern in 2017. In ACC history, Jones joins Lamar Jackson (Louisville/5) and Tahj Boyd (Clemson/2) as the only quarterbacks with multiple 300-100 games.