Commentary: Saturday A Special Day For Clemson Fans


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By BEN WHITEHEAD
Correspondent

Having grown up a Tiger fan all my life, I was taught that
football was important. Clemson had championship teams in the 1980's and
early 1990's. I was born in 1986, so I caught the tail end of the
greatness. Then, for a little over a decade or so, things weren't up to
par, if you will.

Seasons went by where the Tigers finished 3-8 or had to beat arch-rival
South Carolina in the regular season finale just to become bowl eligible.
Instead of talking about ACC Championships, Tiger fans were asking
themselves if they wanted to travel to a lower-tiered bowl game.

All of that has changed in 2007. Of course, even this year hasn't been
steady.

After beginning the year 4-0, many Clemson fans began thinking this could
be a special season. However, those thoughts quickly went away when the
Tigers were defeated at the hands of Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. A lot
of those same fans that were talking about an ACC Championship were now
calling for Tommy Bowden's head and thinking about debating a trip to
Boise for Christmas.

Then came the best four-game stretch for the Clemson Tigers since 2003.
The Tigers have averaged over 47 points per game and defeated their
opponents by an average of nearly 35 points in those four games. Three of
those opponents include Central Michigan (MAC Western Division Champs),
Maryland (who just upset then #8 Boston College), and Wake Forest
(defending ACC Champs).

The week leading up to the Wake Forest game was insane. Clemson had just
found out that Boston College had lost to Florida State, giving the Tigers
control of their own destiny. All the Tigers had to do now was beat Wake
Forest and beat Boston College and they would be heading to Jacksonville.
But in the back of everyone's mind was the game with Wake Forest.

The Tigers and Deacons had split the past four meetings, and the last time
the Deacs were at Clemson, the Tigers narrowly escaped with a 37-30
overtime win.

Saturday morning came and turned out to be what was one of the most
nerve-racking mornings I've been through. All I could think about was the
possibility of us going to Jacksonville. Then, I had to remind myself that
we needed to get past Wake Forest first. This was the most important game
of the year. I was on pins and needles, anxiously awaiting to see how my
Tigers would do in such a situation...basically win or go home.

Then, I found myself looking up at the scoreboard midway through the 2nd
quarter and thought to myself, "We're beating Wake Forest 24-7! We've got
this one in the bag!"

And what a great feeling it was. The rest of the afternoon went as planned
and the celebration began as soon as the clock read 0:00.

Then, another thought crossed my mind. "We are now one win away from
playing in Jacksonville for the ACC Championship and next weekend we will
have what is arguably the biggest game for Clemson since 1991 in Death
Valley."

And so that weekend is approaching. It's only Wednesday and I can barely
sit still just thinking about Saturday night. I am so overwhelmed with
thoughts and excitement that I nearly let out a "GO TIGERS!" today in
class.

Boston College is coming to town with the ACC Atlantic Division
Championship on the line. And what more could we ask for than to have
Death Valley hosting this game. Clemson will get a chance to showcase
Death Valley and one of the best atmospheres in college football on
Saturday night.

The saying goes, "There's something in these hills where the Blue Ridge
yawns its greatness."

Well, on Saturday night, when that team in orange steps off those buses at
7:40 and walks to the top of The Hill. When those players rub Howard's
Rock and Tiger Band strikes up "Tiger Rag". When that cannon fires and the
players run down that hill in front of 83,000 plus, that "something" will
be something spectacular.

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