Clemson and Maryland Look for Early Edge in Death Valley

Jay SchrimpfCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2008

It could be a game played in the late 1970s or '80s. Maryland and Clemson getting together in Death Valley for a game to have major implications in the ACC.

The names of yesteryear have changed from Boomer, Homer, Ross, and Ford to new ones. The stadiums have been updated with new press boxes, suites and jumbotrons. Television now dictates kickoff times and even affects rules. But, in a strange way, here we are again—Clemson and Maryland.

Both teams have already been embarrassed in this young season. Clearly, Clemson fell victim to its own press clippings and was outclassed in the season opener against Alabama. Maryland dropped a game to Middle Tennessee State that had the Terp fans counting the days to basketball season the Sunday afterward.

Both teams, too, have coaches on the proverbial "hot seat." Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is just 25-23 since 2004. The Terps' conference record over the same time is 14-18. The Maryland graduate needs a good year to quiet the critics.

Tommy Bowden also would love to exorcise the demons and win the ACC title. The last three years, the Tigers have come very close. In fact, three plays in three years have kept the Tigers from winning the division each year! But that does not help him when asked how many championships he has won. 

Thus, the early season showdown is set. The winner is sure to have the inside track to the divisional title despite Wake Forest being considered the class of the conference. The fact of the matter is both Maryland and Clemson are 7-2 against the Deacons over the past nine years. We certainly must acknowledge history.

Yes, this time of year makes me remember football of old. I can remember the crisp autumn air, no TV, sandwiches and sodas before the game, and the ACC showdown...Clemson and Maryland. (OK, so it's not a top 10 match up...but it will have to do.)