Boston College-Clemson Preview
Clemson is out to prove that "Clemsoning" is a thing of the past.
So far the fifth-ranked Tigers are on the right track, though they can't overlook Saturday night's matchup with Boston College and the nation's No. 1 defense.
Clemson (5-0, 2-0 ACC) continues to build momentum as a contender for the College Football Playoff, most recently winning 43-24 at home last Saturday against Georgia Tech behind dominant defense.
The Tigers limited the Yellow Jackets' vaunted option attack to 71 rushing yards on 42 carries, and Georgia Tech converted one of 12 third-down opportunities.
Offensively, Clemson's 537 total yards were a season high, including a season-best 265 passing yards by Deshaun Watson. Wayne Gallman also ran 13 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66-yard scoring run on the third play.
The offense is still lagging a bit behind the defense, however, ranking 48th nationally with 431.8 yards per game. Clemson limits opponents to 289.8 yards, the 13th-fewest.
"Looking at our offense and the talent that we have, there is no way we can say that we have reached our full potential and what we know we are capable of," freshman receiver Deon Cain, who broke out with five receptions for 96 yards, told the school's official website. "If we keep progressing each week, we will get there."
The Tigers can set a school mark with their 14th consecutive home victory, while their 33 straight wins against unranked opponents are already a Clemson record.
That's part of the reason why coach Dabo Swinney is tired of hearing the word "Clemsoning" get mentioned. The term emerged due to the program's previous penchant for suffering major letdowns - losing games they were supposed to win, often after pulling off a big victory.
"This football team has shown up. What else do we have to do?" Swinney said. "I can't believe I have to come here with a 5-0 football team and talk about 'Clemsoning.' It shouldn't be in the conversation."
Though the resume of Boston College (3-3, 0-3) is rather unimpressive, Swinney cautioned against underestimating the Eagles, whose defense he described as the "standard in college football."
Boston College leads the nation with 140.3 yards allowed per game with only two offensive TDs surrendered. The run and pass defense have been equally strong, limiting four teams to 33 rushing yards or fewer while opponents have recorded an FBS-low 75.5 passer rating.
The Eagles have been abysmal on the other side of the ball, though, with 323.0 yards per game to rank 118th nationally.
They had gone 62 games since last being shut out in 2010, but now have been blanked twice in their last four after last Saturday's 3-0 home loss to Wake Forest. Boston College outgained the Demon Deacons 270-142 but punted eight times and failed to score despite four red-zone possessions, including two in the final two minutes.
Coach Steve Addazio's team had at least previously been able to say it took care of the ball, but its four turnovers matched its total from the first five games.
Boston College has relied on its running attack, averaging 214.0 yards, but its 6.0 yards per passing attempt are the country's 18th-fewest.
"When you watch the films from last week's game, both on offense and on special teams, we had some unbelievable scoring opportunities," Addazio said. "That's why you know they're right there. I mean, they seem farther away and I understand why you would think that. I get it. The fact of the matter is we're not scoring touchdowns. But, the film doesn't lie either."
Clemson is 6-1 in the series under Swinney, winning four straight meetings including a 17-13 victory at Boston College last season.
The Eagles have averaged 11.7 points and 199.3 yards of offense in dropping their last three trips to Death Valley.