With today's victory over Middle Tennessee, Clemson has won 20 of its last 26 season openers, including a 7-3 record in the last 10 years. Of note, Clemson's last three season-opening losses were to top-25 teams. Overall, the Tigers are 84-22-8, regardless of site, in the last 114 seasons. In Clemson's 109 home openers, the Tigers have an 84-17-8 against 34 different opponents.
Also of note, this is the second meeting between Middle Tennessee and Clemson. The two teams met initially during the 2003 season, and the score of that meeting was 37-14 in favor of the Tigers, just as it was today.
Clemson Heisman trophy candidate C.J. Spiller started the season with a record-setting 96-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff of the game. The senior running back from Lake Butler, FL, is the first Clemson player to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown in school history. In fact, the only other time any player has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a Clemson opener was in 1971, when Kentucky's Doug Kotar returned a kickoff (but not the opening kickoff) for a touchdown. Today's kick off return for a touchdown is the fourth for Spiller, and was his second consecutive kickoff return for touchdown in a season-opener. Spiller returned a kickoff 96 yards in the Tigers' 2008 season-opener against Alabama in Atlanta, GA. The kickoff return was Spiller's 14th carry of at least 50 yards, and eighth of at least 80 yards. Both of those figures are Clemson records.
Spiller moved into sixth place on the ACC's career all-purpose yardage leader list with 171 yards during today's game. He entered the game as Clemson's career leader in all-purpose yards and now boasts 5,079 yards for his career. Spiller needs 749 yards to tie for the league's all-time lead.
Jacoby Ford tallied a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown with 6:02 remaining in the second quarter. It was only the second time Clemson has recorded a kickoff return and punt return in the same game. The only other time that has happened was in 1987 against Georgia Tech, when Donnell Woolford had a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown and Joe Henderson returned a kickoff for 95 yards.
Ford's punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter was his third kick return for a score over his career. The previous two occurred in 2006, when he had a 92-yard punt return for touchdown against Florida Atlantic and a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Louisiana Tech. Overall, Ford has 31 career touchdowns and is tied for 12th with Fred Cone on the Tigers' all-time list.
Ford is the second player in the last 12 years to score touchdowns on a punt return and a pass reception in the same game. The last time it happened was in 1997, when Tony Horne scored twice in the same manner against South Carolina.
Kyle Parker recorded his first career touchdown pass on a 43-yard completion to Jacoby Ford with 2:55 remaining in the first half. While it was Parker's first score as a Tiger, it was Ford's 11th career touchdown. Parker's second career touchdown pass was a 33-yard lob to sophomore Marquan Jones with 9:04 remaining in the third quarter. It was Jones' first touchdown reception as a Tiger.
Parker completed his debut football game 9-20 for 159 yards passing, 7 carries for 25 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Dabo Swinney opened his first full season as the Tigers' head coach with a home victory. Clemson head coaches have a 15-5-5 record in season openers in their first full season at the helm of the Tiger team.
Clemson defensive players recorded three interceptions against the Blue Raiders. DeAndre McDaniel tallied an interception at the 13:51 mark of the first quarter, and Brandon Maye (who was wearing #17 in honor of sophomore lineback Stanley Hunter) snatched a pick with 9:18 remaining in the first quarter. Chris Chancellor picked up his ninth career interception at the 10:17 mark of the third quarter. Chancellor now has 120 return yards on his nine interceptions.
Redshirt junior kicker Richard Jackson recorded three field goals in today's victory. Jackson had a long of 44 yards, and was 3-5 on field goal attempts.
The Tigers recorded 135 punt return yards against the Blue Raiders. That tally is good for eighth on the Clemson all-time punt return yardage list. The Clemson record for punt return yards in a game is 227 against Georgia Tech in 1987.