The college football world will have its eyes on Clemson on Saturday morning and again Saturday night as the Tigers host College GameDay and then Louisville for a top-5 showdown.
Being at the center of attention is nothing new for Clemson, as this will be the fourth time the Tigers have hosted College GameDay in four years. The Tigers played at night on national television each of the previous three times and will be in primetime once again on ABC at 8 p.m.
Clemson is 2-1 over the past four years with College GameDay on campus, including a 24-22 win over Notre Dame last season.
“It’s no different, regardless of if everyone’s watching or no one’s watching… It’s still football,” Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson said. “At the end of the day, you’re still doing what you love to do, what you’ve been doing your whole life. You just go out there and have fun.”
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That mindset is what has allowed Clemson to have so much success at Death Valley in recent years.
The Tigers have won 18 consecutive home games, dating back to a blowout loss to Florida State in 2013, and are 35-2 at Death Valley since 2011.
“One of the many reasons why we’ve been so successful is the same way we’re going to practice this week and prepare in meetings and everything else is the same way we prepared for South Carolina State or Troy,” senior linebacker Ben Boulware said. “We do not do anything different … There will be a lot more attention with the media, but how we prepare is exactly the same.”
ESPN cameras and college football reporter Marty Smith were on campus Monday, and the attention will likely continue to grow all week, culminating in Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder and Rece Davis holding the popular college football pre-game show Saturday morning.
College GameDay provides solid exposure, but doesn’t change much as far as the team goes, according to Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott.
“We love having them here. Obviously, it’s great for recruiting. It’s great for the Clemson brand. I don’t feel like our guys get caught up in that anymore,” Scott said. “Maybe the first couple of years of it was really a big deal, but now it seems like they see those guys once a month over the last few years.”
Clemson’s experience playing on the big stage could pay dividends. The Tigers have played two night games on national television on the road already this year, and had everyone’s attention in the Orange Bowl and then the national title game last season.
“I feel like our guys have done a good job of that in these big games in the past,” Scott said. “That will be the big message. I know Coach (Dabo) Swinney will be preaching to these guys all week, focus on doing your job and let everything else outside of the game take care of itself.”
Who: Louisville at Clemson
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
Line: Louisville by 1 1/2