Defending national champion Clemson has passed a few early tests already but will face their biggest one yet on Saturday. The second-ranked Tigers put their school-record 11-game road winning streak on the line when they visit No. 12 Virginia Tech in an ACC showdown between unbeaten teams.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente knows his team’s margin for error is next to nothing against the Tigers, who are explosive on offense and dominant on defense. “It’s like defusing a bomb,” Fuente told reporters. “Like one small snip of the wire that’s incorrect and, ‘Boom!’ You blow your hands off. That’s how talented and how good they are.” Clemson already has beaten two ranked opponents, holding off Auburn in a defensive struggle and routing Louisville on the road, and pulled away in the fourth quarter of a 34-7 win over Boston College last week. The Hokies survived a tough test in a 31-24 win over West Virginia to open the season but have coasted past inferior competition over the last three weeks.
TV: 8 p.m., ABC. LINE: Clemson -7.5.
ABOUT CLEMSON (4-0, 2-0 ACC): The Tigers boast one of the nation’s best defenses, ranking third nationally in total defense (227 yards per game) and scoring defense (9.2 points) despite a challenging early schedule. The offense has been remarkably consistent as well, considering all Clemson lost at the skill positions. Quarterback Kelly Bryant has been terrific, passing for 873 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 268 yards and seven scores, and freshman running back Travis Etienne (292 yards, four TDs) averages 12.7 yards per carry.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (4-0): The Hokies have long been regarded for their stellar defense and special-teams work, but they’re putting up huge offensive numbers so far this season. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson has been superb, completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 1,127 yards with 11 touchdowns and one interception, albeit against weak competition. Jackson has a tremendous weapon in receiver Cam Phillips, who has recorded 34 receptions for 523 yards and five touchdowns through four contests.
1. Clemson has won four straight over Virginia Tech following the latter’s five-game winning streak in the series.
2. Virginia Tech K Joey Slye needs 12 points to surpass Shayne Graham (371 points) as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
3. Clemson has won 38 straight contests and is 42-1 under Dabo Swinney when rushing for at least 200 yards.
PREDICTION: Clemson 23, Virginia Tech 17