Last week’s results
No. 8 Clemson (7-1, 5-1 ACC) beat Maryland 40-27.
Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC) lost to Georgia Tech 35-25.
Will Clemson begin a November to remember?
This week, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris spoke about “a November to remember,” and the Tigers are in position to have just that. They begin the final month of the season 7-1 and in the Top 10 nationally. With a 4-0 month, Clemson would be in excellent shape for its second BCS bowl bid in three seasons. Two years ago, the Tigers were in the same spot but were blown out by N.C. State and South Carolina. They rebounded for an ACC title game win over Virginia Tech, but finished the season on a 2-4 skid, including an epic 70-33 embarrassment at the hands of West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.
Last fall, Clemson had a shot at a BCS bid if it could handle South Carolina in the regular-season finale, but it had to settle for the Chick-fil-A Bowl following a 27-17 defeat.
“We have to continue to find ways to win games,” Swinney said. “Hopefully play our best football. Hopefully we haven’t played our best football in September and October. You want to play your best this month. This month, everyone is jockeying for position. If we play really good football in November, you have a chance to separate and have a special season.”
The Tigers have Virginia, a Thursday night game against Georgia Tech, The Citadel and a visit to South Carolina left on the schedule. A strong effort in Charlottesville would be an excellent start to the month.
Can the Tigers continue their road dominance?
Since suffering a 49-37 loss at Florida State last September, Clemson has built an impressive streak away from Memorial Stadium. The Tigers have won seven consecutive games at road or neutral sites, four last season and their first three in 2013. A win at Virginia would mark the program’s longest road/neutral win streak since 1978-79, when the Tigers won nine consecutive away from home. Clemson is currently just one of eight programs with at least a seven-game win streak away from home.
A win at Virginia would be something to remember: This is Clemson’s first trip to Charlottesville since 2009, and due to ACC schedule rotation, it will be the last until at least 2025.
“It’s hard to maintain that consistency,” Swinney said. “We have to become a consistent program, one that handles success and failure well. We have to focus on what we can control.”
Will Mike London survive Virginia’s struggles?
Clemson won’t see the Cavaliers again until 2020, but even if Virginia was visiting Memorial Stadium next fall, it’s hard to predict if head coach Mike London would lead them in. London is 18-26 in his fourth season as the Cavs head coach, and Virginia has struggled this fall, going 2-6 against what the NCAA says is the nation’s strongest schedule as measured by opponents’ win percentage (.708).
The Cavaliers have lost five consecutive games, allowing at least 27 points in each of their last four defeats. Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage gave London a vote of confidence, telling the Washington Post that “I don’t want there to be uncertainty about what I believe the future to be, which is with Mike London as our coach.”
Swinney himself gave London a vote of confidence Tuesday.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach London and his staff and what they’re trying to do up there,” he said. “They’ve played a tough schedule. It’s impressive how hard they’re playing and how they’re competing. They’re not far away. They’re a talented football team and according to the experts, playing the toughest schedule in the country. Mike London will get it done there.”
The Cavaliers still have North Carolina, No. 7 Miami and archrival Virginia Tech on the schedule, but knocking off Clemson would give London’s job security a major boost.
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Place: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
Radio: Clemson and Virginia radio networks (regional)
Spread: Clemson -17 via vegasinsider.com
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes for this article were obtained directly by the author.