No. 4 Clemson visits No. 12 VTech in early ACC showdown
No. 2 Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) at No. 12 Virginia Tech (4-0, 0-0), Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (ABC)
Line: Clemson by 7½.
Series record: Clemson leads 21-12-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Early playoff positioning and the claim of best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference — at least for now. The Tigers and Hokies could meet again down the road in a conference championship game, as they did last season. Clemson won that game 42-35 on the way to a national title. Virginia Tech has not quite been at the Tigers’ level, but year one under coach Justin Fuente exceeded expectations and so far it looks as if year two could do the same.
Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and the Clemson defensive line vs. Virginia Tech’s offensive line. The Hokies’ veteran offensive line (three seniors and two juniors) has played well so far, allowing only four sacks, but this is a whole new ballgame. Clemson is lining up nothing but future NFL players up front. The key could be how much — if any — push Virginia Tech gets in the running game when they have the tailbacks involved. Fuente would probably like to avoid having QB Josh Jackson be the focal point of the running game against Clemson’s fearsome front.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Clemson: RB Travis Etienne. The freshman leads the team in rushing with 292 yards in limited duty. In a big game on the road, will Dabo Swinney let the freshman be his No. 1 option at tailback? He has plenty of good options.
Virginia Tech: WR Cam Phillips. The senior has been one of the busiest receivers in college football so far. He leads the Hokies in catches (34), yards receiving (523) and touchdowns (five) and no other player on the team has more than 163 yards receiving and 14 catches.
FACTS & FIGURES
Clemson has won seven straight games against ranked opponents ... The previous time Clemson came to Lane Stadium was 2011. The Tigers won 23-3. Clemson has won four straight meetings, including the 2011 ACC title game. ... Jackson is trying to become the first Virginia Tech quarterback to win his first five starts since Tyrod Taylor in 2007 ... Clemson has won 11 straight road games, a school record.
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