Clemson takes on Virginia at 8 pm Saturday.
Clemson takes on Virginia at 8 pm Saturday.

Clemson vs. Virginia prediction: Tigers get first test of the season

by - Senior Writer -

A title game rematch, a night game in Death Valley, and another chance to see football in the year that is 2020.

Virginia hosted Clemson in an ACC football game at Scott Stadium in November 2013, a Clemson victory, and more than six years passed before they met again. That came in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the third-ranked Tigers routed the No. 22 Cavaliers 62-17 in last year’s ACC championship game.

Ten months later, UVA plays the Tigers at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium in a game to air on the ACC Network.

The Wahoos won’t be intimidated and they won’t back down, and this one should be fun.

NO. 1/1 CLEMSON (2-0, 1-0 ACC) vs. VIRGINIA (1-0, 1-0 ACC)

TELEVISION: ACC Network (Dave O'Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George)
RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 137, XM 193, Internet 955
OVERALL: Clemson leads series, 39-8-1
HOME: Clemson leads series, 20-3-1
ROAD: Clemson leads series, 18-5
NEUTRAL: Clemson leads series, 1-0
LAST MEETING: Dec. 7, 2019 (62-17, W)
STREAK: Clemson, Won 4


*Clemson at Home: Clemson has won a school-record 23 straight home games and is a national-best 42-1 at home since 2014. Clemson has outscored opponents 1782-548 at home in that span, an average victory margin of 28.7 points per game.

*Clemson at Night: Clemson has played 37 night games since 2015. In that span, Clemson is 33-4 at night, including a 24-1 night record in the regular season and an 11-0 mark under the lights at Death Valley.

*Clemson on Saturdays: The Tigers enter the contest having won 45 consecutive Saturday games, tied with the 1953-57 Oklahoma Sooners for the longest streak in FBS history, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Clemson can take sole possession of the longest Saturday streak in FBS history with a win Saturday night.

*UVA is visiting Death Valley for the first time since 2009. The Tigers escaped with the 34-21 victory in what served as C.J. Spiller’s “Senior Day” game at Clemson.

*The Tigers won the first 29 games in the series before UVA won in 1990. Since then, Virginia is 8-10-1 vs. Clemson.

*Virginia is playing the Associated Press’ No. 1 team for the first time since 1999 when the Cavaliers hosted top-ranked Florida State.

*Because of the ACC’s unbalanced schedule, Virginia and Clemson’s next regular season game has not been scheduled yet. Virginia was always scheduled to play at Clemson this year and the contest remained on the revamped ACC schedule that came out in August. Virginia and Clemson played every season from 1977-2004, but have only played three regular season games since (2008, 2009 and 2013). In 2024 when the already announced ACC rotating crossover conference opponent schedule is complete, UVA and Clemson will have met five times in the 20 seasons between 2005-2024, which includes last year’s ACC Championship game.


Wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. notched four receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut against Duke. The 6-7 freshman who hails from Dorchester (SC) attended Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s camps while he was in high school but didn’t receive a Clemson offer. Quarterback Brennan Armstrong completed 24-of-45 passes for 269 yards and two scores (and two interceptions) in his first start. He was just 11-25 in the first half, however, and the Blue Devils were able to get pressure early before a lack of depth wore them down. Wayne Taulapapa had 16 carries for 95 yards, while Armstrong was the second-leading rusher with 10 carries for 47 yards.

Clemson’s defense has been outstanding. The Tigers will have to try and match up with the 6-7 Davis and 6-7 tight end Tony Poljan, who had four receptions for 44 yards last week. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables will pressure early, and often, and all game long in an attempt to frustrate Armstrong. The key for the Cavaliers might be Taulapapa and the running game – can they play keep away from the Tiger offense and control the clock? Or will they go up-tempo like they did in the second half last week to make Armstrong more comfortable?



When Clemson's first-team offense has been on the field, they’ve been outstanding. The Cavaliers run a 3-4 defensive scheme which has, in the past, given offenses fits early on. Clemson needs to figure out a way to get Travis Etienne warmed up and revved up. The Cavaliers forced seven turnovers last week – including five interceptions – and will be looking to do the same this week. Strong safety Brent Nelson hauled in two of those interceptions and is a ball hawk on the back end.

The Tigers do have matchup advantages, including in the middle of the field with tight end Braden Galloway and slot receiver Amari Rodgers. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence won’t force things and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will continue to use the middle of the field, opening up the running lanes for Etienne. It might take a series or two for the Tigers to get going, but when they do, watch out.



Clemson has been very good on special teams so far this season, with kicker BT Potter hitting all three of his field goals and punter Will Spiers has gotten off to a good start. The Tigers also rank eighth nationally in punt returns, with a 17.80 yard average. Punter Nash Griffin is good if not great and is back for a fifth year for the Wahoos. Kicker Brian Delaney hit his one field goal attempt last week and hit five of seven kickoffs for touchbacks.



In listening to the interviews out of Charlottesville this week, it’s obvious that the Cavaliers understand they don’t match up with the Tigers from a speed standpoint and instead will try to wear down Clemson’s fronts and skill players with a physical style of play. That worked for a while for Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, but Clemson answered in a big way. Virginia isn’t Ohio State Once the offense gets rolling -- it won’t stop, and the defense will put pressure on Armstrong from the first play.


More TigerNet picks

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 41-14 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 52-17 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 45-16 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 41-13 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-7 Clemson*

(* Picking the same score all season)

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet Tony Crumpton
Wake Forest 37-13 CU 42-9 CU 49-10 CU 49-13 CU 47-10 CU 44-13 CU 42-7 CU
The Citadel 49-0 CU 52-7 CU 57-6 CU 59-7 CU 55-0 CU 62-6 CU 42-7 CU
Points - 2 2 2 4 4 2

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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