The Clemson Tigers football team, No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, took care of business against Syracuse and now draws a feisty Pitt squad.
Who: Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) vs. Pitt (5-4, 2-3)
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson (81,500)
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay)
Radio: WZMJ-FM 93.1 FM in Columbia area, Clemson Radio Network
Satellite radio: SiriusXM 84
Series record: Pitt leads 1-0
Line: Clemson by 20 1/2
What’s at stake
Clemson is still in a driver’s seat for a playoff spot, and staying undefeated will keep any doubt away. The Tigers are on track to draw four solid but not high-ceiling opponents down the stretch. Pitt is trying to make progress in coach Pat Narduzzi’s second season, and an upset of Clemson would put the Panthers in line for eight wins at the end of the regular season.
The teams, by the numbers
Opp. Yds Rush/Game
Opp. Yds Pass/Game
Opp. Total Yds/Game
Three Story lines
1. A bit of a challenge. Pitt hasn’t been particularly consistent this season, but its offense can be dangerous. Against FBS competition, the Panthers rank 15th in yards per play. Clemson’s defense is no doubt strong enough to handle it, but the Tigers still have to do it.
2. Big-play prone. This will be a good chance for the Tigers to break some big plays because of Pitt’s defensive style. The Panthers play Narduzzi’s preferred approach, which tries to strangle offenses with a risk of big plays. This season, Pitt has given up a lot of them as the coach has not compromised based on personnel.
3. Stretch run? The Tigers just played their cleanest offensive game, bombing away on Syracuse and committing no turnovers for the second time all season. Winning out gets a playoff spot, but looking good doing it couldn’t hurt.
Three Clemson Players to Watch
1. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had about the day you could want against the Orange, putting up 169 yards while hitting 13-of-16 passes. He’s thrown for 2,497 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, plus 365 yards on the ground.
2. Wide receiver Deon Cain came up big with 125 yards and a pair of scores on five catches against Syracuse. He’s at 449 yards on 22 catches, with 8 scores and an average of 20.4 yards
3. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley has been an anchor on the back end of Clemson’s defense all season. He’s got 33 tackles, one interception and eight pass break-ups.
Three Pitt Players to Watch
1. Quarterback Nathan Peterman has quietly been a high-efficiency passer who doesn’t have too much of the offense put on his shoulders. He’s thrown for 1,806 yards but averages a robust 8 yards an attempt with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
2. Running back James Conner is one of the best stories in the sport after his return from cancer, and he fits the mold of a bellcow back. The junior has more than three times as many carries as anyone else on the team, and has 712 yards with 11 touchdowns.
3. Defensive lineman Ejuan Price broke out last year as a junior, and he’s taken another step this season. He ranks third nationally in sacks (nine), tied for second in tackles for loss (16) and has forced three fumbles.