Monday, October 16, 2006

Football - GT / Clemson - Underrated Rivaly?

Could the GT / Clemson series be the most underrated rivaly in the nation? Maybe the south? If you judge the series based on quality and competitiveness and closeness of finishes, then I challenge you to find a rivaly better than this:


Last year's 10-9 victory by Georgia Tech over Clemson was just the latest in a string of close games between the two schools. Nine of the last 10 games between Tech and Clemson have been decided by five points or fewer, including six straight games from 1996-01 that were decided by exactly three points.

2005, Tech 10, Clemson 9: P.J. Daniels rushed for 100 yards and scored the game's only touchdown on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter in the Yellow Jackets' 10-9 victory over Clemson at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. For Clemson, six trips inside the Tech 35 netted just three field goals as Tech forced four turnovers and held the Tigers without a touchdown for the first time since the opening game of the 2003 season. After Tech scored go ahead 10-6, Aaron Kelly returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tech 19. The Tigers had a first-and-goal at the six, but cornerback Kenny Scott knocked away Charlie Whitehurst's third-down pass and the Tigers had to settle for a field goal.

2004, Tech 28, Clemson 24: Calvin Johnson's third touchdown catch of the game, with just 11 seconds left, capped a miraculous comeback as Georgia Tech scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes. Johnson finished with eight catches for 127 yards, and senior Levon Thomas had eight catches for 100 yards. Quarterback Reggie Ball passed for 251 yards and four touchdowns, and P.J. Daniels added 103 yards rushing.

Trailing 17-7, Tech pulled within three on Thomas' 19-yard touchdown catch with 4:36 left. The Tigers responded almost immediately with a 54-yard touchdown run by Kyle Browning to take 24-14 lead with 3:18 left. After a celebration penalty and a 32-yard kickoff return, Tech took over at its own 49, and eight plays later, Reggie Ball hit Johnson for an eight-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone, again pulling the Jackets within three points with just 1:50 remaining. Clemson recovered the onsides kick at its own 33 and then gained nine yards on first down, but the Tech defense held on second and third downs. The Tigers were forced to punt with 25 seconds, but an errant snap gave Tech the ball at the 11-yard line with 16 seconds to play. Ball lofted a pass to Johnson in the left corner of the end zone for the winning touchdown. The Jackets had to survive one last play after Clemson, aided by a celebration penalty, returned the kickoff to the Tech 31-yard line.

2001, Clemson 47, Tech 44 (ot): In a game that featured 10 lead changes, Woody Dantzler's 11-yard run in overtime provided the final margin. Trailing 34-26 in the fourth quarter, Tech took a 38-34 lead with less than four minutes to play on touchdown runs by Joe Burns and Sidney Ford. Clemson answered by converting a fourth-and-13 into a 63-yard touchdown pass from Dantzler to J.J. McKelvey with 1:58 to play. Tech quarterback George Godsey moved the Jackets 87 yards on 10 plays for Luke Manget's game-tying field goal with six seconds left in regulation.

2000, Tech 31, Clemson 28: George Godsey hit Kerry Watkins for the game-winning, 16-yard touchdown pass with just seven seconds left. Clemson led 24-21 after Brian Mance's 88-yard punt return for a touchdown, but Godsey, who passed for 454 yards, guided the Jackets on two 80-yard scoring drives in the final 10 minutes. First he found Kelly Campbell for a 48-yard touchdown with 6:35 to play. After Clemson regained the lead, 28-24, on a Willie Simmons-to-Rod Gardner touchdown pass with 1:52 left, Godsey completed seven-of-11 passes for 72 yards, capped by the game-winner to Watkins, who caught four passes for 51 yards on the drive. Campell finished with a school-record 14 catches for 209 yards.

1999, Tech 45, Clemson 42: Tech's Joe Hamilton passed for 322 yards and five touchdowns. The Jackets led 28-7 in the second quarter and 45-28 in the fourth, but Clemson pulled within three with seven minutes left. The Tigers had fourth-and-seven at the Tech 43 with three minutes to play, but Chris Young batted down Woody Dantzler's pass inside the 10-yard line.

1998, Tech 24, Clemson 21: Joe Burns scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 1:00 left. Trailing 21-17, Tech took over at its own 43 with 2:30 remaining. Joe Hamilton complete three passes for 53 yards to set up the winning score.

1997, Tech 23, Clemson 20: Brad Chambers kicked the game-winning 20-yard field goal with 1:54 left. The kick was set up by Harvey Middleton, who returned a punt 21 yards to the Clemson 44, then caught a 39-yard pass from Joe Hamilton down to the five-yard line.