Clemson, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Clemson Tigers continue their run through the ACC, as they welcome the Boston College Eagles to Death Valley for a conference showdown at Memorial Stadium.
Dabo Swinney's Tigers move to 5-0 on the season with last weekend's impressive road win at Syracuse. Behind a Heisman-worthy performance from its All- American quarterback, Clemson disposed of the Orange 49-14 at the Carrier Dome. With the win, the Tigers move to 3-0 in league play, tied with Florida State atop the Atlantic Division standings.
Swinney had high praise for his team after the win at Syracuse.
"I'm really proud of our team. It was a great performance on the road and it's always a tough place to play. Our guys really executed at a high level. I thought our defense really responded throughout the four quarters, really played outstanding. Another division win puts us right where we need to be on track 5-0. Offensively we took control of the game."
Steve Addazio's first season in Chestnut Hill has been mildly successful. The team is just 1-1 in conference play, but is coming off a 48-27 win over Army to move to 3-2 on the year. The Eagles utilized their own All-American candidate in the win, as tailback Andre Williams gashed the Black Knights all game long.
Addazio recognizes the challenge of taking on Clemson in Death Valley.
"I am excited about our team right now. We have a great challenge ahead of us this week, playing at Clemson. We've got to go on the road. Last time we went on the road, we didn't handle it so good. This is another opportunity for a learning experience here and for us to rise up and play a great team on the road. We're looking forward to that challenge."
This series, which dates back to 1939, has been highly competitive overall, with Clemson earning an 11-9-2 series advantage thanks to wins in four of the last five meetings.
Williams was unstoppable for Boston College last week, rumbling for a career- high 263 yards on the ground, tying the school's single-game record for scoring with five touchdowns. Through five games, Williams leads the nation in rushing, with 153.6 yards per game and obviously handles the majority of the carries for the Eagles, who are netting an impressive 190.0 yards per game on the ground.
The Eagles are far from a one-trick pony on offense, as quarterback Chase Rettig is a reliable passer, completing 64.2 percent of his throws on the year, for 891 yards, with nine touchdowns. It helps to have an All-ACC candidate to target down the field in wideout Alex Amidon, who paces the team in receptions (32) and receiving yards (426), with two TDs.
Unfortunately for BC, the defensive effort has not been as consistent, as the Eagles have struggled against both the run (204.6 ypg) and the pass (212.8 ypg), en route to allowing a hefty 417.4 ypg and 26.8 ppg.
The strength of the defensive unit for BC comes in the linebacking corps, as both Kevin Pierre-Louis (50 tackles, 3.5 TFL, one sack) and Steele Divitto (43 tackles, 1.5 TFL, one sack) are as good as it gets in the conference.
The BC defense will definitely have its hands full with Clemson's Tahj Boyd and all the weapons at his disposal. Boyd has had a strong season thus far, completing 66 percent of his passes, for 1,449 yards and 14 touchdowns. Five of those came against Syracuse last week, when Boyd threw for a school-record 455 yards.
Despite the ground game accounting for a healthy 174.6 yards per game, led by tailback Roderick McDowell (4.9 ypc), it is a passing attack (343.6 ypg) that is the preferred mode of travel. Boyd has a lethal weapon on the outside in All-American Sammy Watkins. The junior wideout has returned to form in 2013, leading the Tigers in receptions (29), receiving yards (481) and TD catches (3), including last week's 91-yard TD reception (second-longest play from scrimmage in school history).
As prolific as the Clemson offense is, the Tigers are beginning to get noticed for their defensive tenacity this season. The team is yielding 356.6 yards per game to opposing offenses, but has really excelled in pass defense, giving up just 185.4 ypg (17th nationally). With 19 sacks and nine interceptions, the Tigers are becoming a feared unit on passing downs.
Linebackers Stephone Anthony (54 tackles, 4.5 TFL, one sack) and Spencer Shuey (48 tackles) lead the way in the middle. Defensive end Vic Beasley (17 tackles) has been a terror coming off the edge, with team-highs in TFL (10) and sacks (8). Fellow end Shaq Lawson (15 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks) has been a handful despite being just a freshman. Cornerback Darius Robinson has been a ball hawk with a team-high three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.