Bowden Not Looking Ahead, But Everyone Else Is

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - No one would blame Tommy Bowden if he took a peek at the other
teams ahead of Clemson in the polls.

There aren't that many. And a look at their schedules wouldn't be an
unreasonable thing to do. After all to get what he wants - a national
championship - his team has to jump a few in the rankings.

But what does he think about Miami jumping Clemson in the poll last week?

"Couldn't care less," he said. "It's the halftime of the season. If Miami
loses another game, it's no big deal. We've got to play eleven games. We've
got another six to play."

Seems that Bowden looks at it as his job to keep the blinders on, even if no
one else is, including his players.

Offensive guard Will Merritt, for one, can tell you the big games left that
could help Clemson move up from its No. 5 ranking in the AP poll. And it's
likely he's not the only one on the team that is well aware of what's going
on around Clemson in the world of college football. Under the pretense of
doing class work on the computer, Merritt and his teammates have been
checking out the other teams via the Internet.

Tommy Bowden Press Conference (35:00) Keith Adams on facing Maryland Chad Carson on improvements needed against Maryland this year Terry Jolly on Maryland's Lamont Jordan Will Merritt on winning ACC offensive lineman of the week

"We've already looked down the road a couple of weeks," said Merritt. "We
know that Nebraska has to play Kansas State. And Oklahoma has to play a
couple of those teams. We understand what's going on. We're not too dumb."
Merritt has discovered one of the joys of the regular season when you're
climbing in the polls - figuring out how to climb higher.

Clemson fans over the age of 30 remember what it's like. In 1981, Clemson
slowly climbed up the polls until the day after Thanksgiving when all the
stars aligned and the final team fell, allowing Clemson to take the No. 1
ranking. Penn State defeated previously undefeated Pitt that day, leaving
Clemson as the only undefeated team.

Clemson wouldn't have to be the only undefeated team this season in order to
take the No. 1 ranking. There are three undefeated teams ranked below
Clemson now. There are three ranked above, along with Miami with one loss.
None of this has gotten past Merritt.

"We pulled it up on the Internet," he said. "We were all sitting around the
computer mixing and matching teams that had to play each other. It's a fun
game to play. That's when it gets fun - when you can play the game of how
high can we climb."

In case you're wondering, here are the games that catch Merritt's attention:
Nebraska at Oklahoma on Oct. 28, Nebraska at Kansas State on Nov. 11,
Virginia Tech at Miami on Nov. 4 and Oklahoma at Kansas State this Saturday.
"If we had two losses, it wouldn't matter how the others are playing," said
Merritt. "For now we can play this game."

Bowden will start playing the game if Clemson wins five more games.

"I haven't seen Nebraska, Kansas State or Virginia Tech," he said. "Saturday
is a work day for me."

Clemson Pregame Fact Sheet Game: Clemson (6-0, 4-0, 4th USA Today, 5th
AP) vs. Maryland (2-3, 0-2)

Date: October 14, 2000

Kickoff: 6:06 PM

Special Day: Homecoming, Parents' Day

Expected Attendance: 85,000

Ticket Availability: Sold Out

Quote from Van Hilderbrand, Clemson Ticket Manager.

"We are expecting 85,000 fans for the Maryland game. I ask all fans to
arrive in the Clemson area early on Saturday because it will be the largest
volume of traffic we have had this year."

Series Record: Clemson Leads 26-20-2

at Clemson: Clemson leads 14-10

Last Year: Clemson 42, Maryland 30

Last Maryland Win: Maryland 53, Clemson 23 in 1992

Last Maryland Win at Clemson: Maryland 34, Clemson 31 in 1985

Series Streak: Clemson has won 7 in a row overall, 7 in a row at Death

Live TV: ESPN-2 (Dave Barnett, Bill Curry, Mike Golic, Michele Tafoya)

Delay TV: College Sports Southeast (Doug Bell, Hootie Ingram)

Series Note: Maryland has not scored a touchdown in Death Valley since
1991 and scored just two since 1988...Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler had
a school record 435 yards of total offense in the win over Maryland last year.

Bowl Attendance: The Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl

Clemson Injuries: Jermyn Chester, OG, probable, surgery for knee cartilage
injury. Terry Bryant, starting defensive end, doubtful, pulled calf muscle

Other Notes: Bryant McNeal will make his first career start in place
of Terry Bryant...John McDermott will be back in the starting lineup, replacing
Gary Byrd at an offensive tackle...Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler can tie
a Clemson record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games with another 100-yard
rushing game... Rod Gardner needs just three catches to move from fifth to third
place in Clemson history...he will jump over Brian Wofford and Jerry Butler
when he hits the three-catch mark on Saturday...Gardner needs 135 receiving
yards to reach 2000 for his career...running back Travis Zachery needs just
one touchdown to break the Clemson record...he and Lester Brown both have 32...Zachery
also needs just 34 yards rushing to reach the 2000 mark for his career....Clemson
will attempt to go 7-0 to start a season for the first time since 1981.

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