See page 7D for more pre-game coverage of the Tigers, including notes, statistics, quotes and more.
NO. 15 VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (4-1, 1-0 ACC) AT NO. 22 CLEMSON TIGERS (4-1, 2-1), 6 P.M.
• TV: ESPN (cable channel 25 in Rock Hill)
• Radio: WRHI-AM (1340)
• Series record: 17-11-1 Clemson
• Last game: Virginia Tech 27, Clemson 7, Oct. 26, 2006, at Blacksburg, Va.
• Last week: Virginia Tech beat North Carolina 17-10; Georgia Tech beat Clemson 13-3
• Rankings: Virginia Tech is 15th in the AP poll and 14th in the USA Today/coaches poll. Clemson is 22nd in each poll
• Tickets: Sold out
TIGERS' KEYS TO VICTORY
• Harness: The Death Valley crowd will no doubt be stung by the memory of last week and of last year against Virginia Tech. With a TV audience to count on, perhaps the Tigers can set a defensive tone early.
• Catch: Cullen Harper didn't have a great chance to have an effective game last week after his receivers dropped eight passes. That can't continue.
• Pull the trigger: It may be Mark Buchholz is feeling the strain of playing two sports during the fall or it may be he just had a bad day against Georgia Tech. But if he misses another kick, and it's a close game, coach Tommy Bowden needs to turn to backup Richard Jackson. Put it this way -- if Jackson misses, at least Bowden can say he tried.
Virginia Tech is ranked higher than Clemson but the Hokies have been a mystery all season. They haven't been dominant at all and seem to be going through the motions. Clemson's wounded pride has a chance to heal today, and against the very same opponent that begun the Tigers' tailspin last year. A defensive stop could settle Clemson down early, and a quick touchdown -- preferably a rushing one -- would tell the Hokies it won't be as easy last year. Should be a close game, but Clemson's ache to get back in the race wins it.
TIGERS 24, HOKIES 21