Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Can Be Described As Roller Coaster

By Travis Patterson
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson fans have been on a roller coaster ride ever since their Tigers started battling those stingy Yellow Jackets on the football field. Next Thursday night, Clemson will be taking a page out of the Georgia Tech handbook by hosting a Thursday night game, despite their best efforts to avoid it.

The Yellow Jackets are starting to play some of their best ball as of late, and a win over the Tigers at Memorial Stadium would help their bowl position drastically. Meanwhile, the Tigers are still hoping to stay on path to an 11-1 season and a possible BCS game to cap off Tajh Boyd‘s career in an orange uniform.

The question for Clemson fans is, will those bumble bees be able to get under the fur of the Tigers like they have so many times before, or will the mighty Tigers finally be able to handle the triple option?

Clemson fans never know what they are going to get when these two teams meet on the gridiron. There have been too many ups and downs in this annual meeting for any Clemson fan to feel comfortable about their team’s chances. Some of Clemson’s greatest moments have come against the Ramblin’ Wreck. But for every proud moment, there is an unthinkable loss to match it.

In 1991, Clemson fans saw Georgia Tech kicker Scott Sisson miss a field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining that secured a 9-7 victory for their Tigers over the defending national champions. Ken Hatfield‘s Tigers went on to claim the ACC crown when the 1991 season came to a close.

In 2001, Clemson notched their biggest road victory since 1981 when Woody Dantzler dazzled fans helping his Tigers to a 47-44 triumph in Atlanta. In 2006, James Davis and C.J. Spiller had their names changed to a physical phenomena (Thunder and Lightning) after they ran circles around Georgia Tech defenders while doing it in style with purple uniforms.

Where there is success, there is failure. Clemson fans saw their Tigers’ perfect season come to an end when Georgia Tech’s Kerry Watkins hauled in a touchdown pass with seven seconds left in the 2000 meeting in Death Valley. As if that wasn’t hard enough for Tiger fans, a freshman named Calvin Johnson won the game for his Yellow Jackets in the closing seconds of the 2004 contest, again on the Clemson lawn.

Let’s not forget about the 2009 ACC Championship game, where Georgia Tech’s Jonathon Dwyer walked into the end zone untouched, burying Clemson’s hopes of hoisting a trophy with just over a minute remaining in the game. The most recent misfortune against Georgia Tech came in 2011 when the Buzz halted Clemson’s improbable 8-0 start, which reminded Tiger fans all to well of the 2000 heartache.

Georgia Tech giveth. Georgia Tech taketh away.

No school has been a bigger thorn in Clemson’s side than Georgia Tech, at least for the last two decades. Whether Paul Johnson‘s team is playing spoiler or the favorite, nothing ever comes easy for the Tigers. Could we see another giant Georgia Tech receiver steal victory from the Tigers once again? Or maybe a kicker will become a hero or a goat with one strike of the ball.

Maybe the legend of (insert name here) will be born with a sensational performance on national television.

More times than not, a player’s name is transformed into a verb after a Georgia Tech-Clemson game. What also needs to be considered is that, at least mathematically, Georgia Tech is still in the race for the coastal division crown. A loss to the Tigers would damage any hope of returning to Charlotte for the conference championship game. Astonishingly, Clemson has not defeated Georgia Tech in two consecutive seasons since the 2002-03 seasons, but both of those wins each occurred in the month of September.

It’s November now, and that is the only month that holds any weight in college football.

It’s a good thing that both teams are on a hiatus this weekend, because both fan bases know that neither team has figured out how to slow down the other. Whenever a bye week occurs, every coach always says that it is coming at a great time, regardless of their situation. This time, it is true for both the Tigers and the Yellow Jackets.

Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC  Football Writers Association of America.  Follow on Twitter @tpat20.


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