Clemson braces for Hurricanes in top-10 showdown in Death Valley

Clemson braces for Hurricanes in top-10 showdown in Death Valley
Dabo Swinney celebrates with his players after a win over Virginia. (Source: Ken Ruinard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Clemson and Miami will clash for the first time in the regular season in five years.

Last time they went toe-to-toe, the Tigers handed the Hurricanes their worst loss in program history in the form of a 58-0 road thrashing.

Saturday’s top-10 night duel at Memorial Stadium figures to play out a tad differently.

“We’ve got the biggest challenge that we’ve had this year for sure,” said Swinney. “This is a really, really complete football team. They got dudes everywhere.”

Talent all over the field creates a high probability of fireworks.

“A bunch of guys on both sides playing on Sunday in the near future,” Swinney added. “There’s going to be some explosives on both sides.”

“Get better going into games, coming out of games, going against the best,” said senior wide receiver Amari Rodgers. “Great defense, very athletic and very fast.”

Both teams find balance on offense and force opponents to pick their poison. A 'Canes player Clemson must account for is quarterback senior D’Eriq King.

“When he takes off, he’s a running back, and that’s the mindset he has,” Swinney said. “You better have your big boy pads on. He wants to throw it first. He’s a very good thrower. He can throw the ball on the run. He can push the ball down the field. There’s really nothing he can’t do.”

“He’s obviously a very dynamic player,” added senior linebacker Baylon Spector. “Very fast. Runs the ball, escapes the pocket, can throw it, and they have great personnel all around the field.”

The top-ranked Tigers are no strangers to bright lights and big stages. They’ll draw on it to handle the eye of the Hurricane in the Valley.

“Big-time games like that, those are always games you look forward too,” Rodgers said. “It’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next one. We got to lock in and win the day on Saturday.”

“We’ll prepare for it the same and look forward to the opportunity,” added Spector.

Clemson would improve to 16-2 all-time with a win when ranked number one by the AP, having never lost a regular-season game as the nation’s top-ranked team.

Swinney enters Saturday’s matchup encouraged from what he has seen so far from his top-ranked Tigers.

“Good news is we’re 3-0 and have not come close to playing our best football,” Swinney said.

There’s room for improvement, which Dabo embraces. What he wants his players to avoid Saturday night, however, is getting caught up in the Miami swag and potential smack talk throughout the game.

“You only have so much energy,” Swinney mentioned. “It’s an emotional game for sure. I think there’s a difference in being emotional, reactive, and things like that. Just play the game. There’s energy and competitiveness and all of that. We want to win on the scoreboard. That’s where we want to win.”

Clemson’s veteran leadership truly factors into the winning equation. The Tiger trio on offense of Trevor Lawrence, Amari Rodgers, and Travis Etienne made big plays to spark Clemson past its last opponent.

“Keep carrying that momentum every single week,” said Rodgers.

“Be that one to make a play and make that spark for the team so we can roll.”

Some inclement weather looks like it might hover over the Valley at kickoff. Dabo says as long as it’s the same weather for both teams, none of it matters. A win does, as it would secure Clemson its 25th-straight victory over an ACC opponent.

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