After three weeks of the 2008 season and a series of setbacks and accomplishments, we check in on the Clemson Tigers' hopes of still winning the ACC Championship in 2008.
The Tigers traveled to the Georgia Dome as the ninth-ranked team in the nation to take on the Crimson Tide of Alabama. Nick Saban and the Tide were ready to play and quickly pulled ahead of the Tigers after multiple Tiger miscues, including a fumble by true freshman running back Jamie Harper on his first carry as a Tiger.
The night only got worse when the Tigers lost not only DE Ricky Sapp for the game but also WR Jacoby Ford early on. The Tigers could never regain composure and lost the game 34-10.
The talented Tigers rushing duo of James Davis and CJ Spiller were held to zero yards on the ground, while the Tide rushed for over 200 yards. The one bright spot for the Tigers took place on the opening kickoff of the second half when CJ Spiller took a kickoff return 96 yards for the Tigers' only touchdown.
Final: Alabama 34 - Clemson 10
The Citadel traveled to Clemson to take on the 0-1 Tigers, who now had to prove to not only their fans but the entire nation that they were not just all hype. The day started off with a long drive which unfortunately ended with a Davis fumble in the red zone.
The Tigers then would take command and with over 100 yards from Davis would beat the Citadel 45-17 to go to 1-1 on the young season. The Tigers moved to 13-0 all time when Davis rushes for 100 yards.
The Tigers won the game but still gave up over 400 yards of offense and lost the time of possession battle for the second week in a row but came away with what was most important, the victory.
The Tiger defense was led by a record day by safety Michael Hamlin, who tied the school record with three INT and moved from eighth to second on the Clemson INT return yards list. With over 100 yards from Davis and an astounding three TD's on only six rushing attempts from CJ Spiller, the Tigers were back on their winning ways and looked to continue the next week in their conference opener vs. NC State.
Final: Clemson 45 - Citadel 17
With not only a noon kickoff but also being the ACC opener, the Tigers did not get off to the start that they would have liked.
On the first play from scrimmage, Wolfpack LB Nate Irving picked off the Harper pass and took it the other way for six quick points for the Wolfpack.
However, the Tigers gained momentum back on the very next play by blocking the extra point attempt, which left the Wolfpack with a 6-0 lead seconds into the game. The Tigers would bounce right back when Harper connected with Jacoby Ford for a TD and the Tigers took a 7-6 lead.
The Tiger defense tightened and allowed only three points to the NC State offense the rest of the game. The Tiger however would score two more TD's by CJ Spiller (one rush, one rec.) and add two FG's from Mark Bucholz.
Spiller had the Tiger crowd on their feet with the play of the day in the 4th quarter with maybe the most exciting play of his Tiger career. After taking a handoff from Harper, Spiller stopped stepped backwards away from a defender, stepped around him then proceeded to juke other defenders almost our of their cleats on his way to the end zone.
However, all of this would be erased by a holding call on the Clemson TE that did not even affect the play. Spiller would not be denied, however, and scored later on the ground to cap off another victory for the Tigers.
Final: Clemson 27 - NC State 9
At 2-1, the Tigers will play SC State on Sept. 20th before heading back into conference play the following week. The Tigers next three ACC opponents will be Maryland, who just knocked off the University of California convincingly followed by a trip to possibly the toughest game on the Clemson schedule.
The Tigers will travel on Thursday, Oct. 9, to face the Wake Forest Deacons on ESPN. This will be a tough test for the Tigers, and their hopes of an ACC title could be decided as early as this game.
A win would put them in the driver's seat heading to Boston College and Florida State before closing out the ACC schedule with Duke on homecoming and a November trip to Virginia.
The Tigers will conclude the 2008 regular season with the annual rivalry game with South Carolina at Death Valley.