Watch it the old-fashioned way

by - Correspondent -

You could watch North Carolina State play Pittsburgh on television Saturday at 3:30 p.m. You could watch Northeastern play Villanova at the same time. You could watch the Florida A&M Rattlers play the Tennessee State Tigers anywhere from sea to shining sea.

But you won’t be able to watch Clemson face the No. 14 team in the nation in Death Valley, not the old-school way on TV. No network chose to show the Horned Frogs come to town.

It’s the first time Clemson has played a ranked opponent without being on live TV since 1994, when the Tigers upset 12th-ranked North Carolina 28-17 in Chapel Hill. It’s the first time since 1992, after 51 games, the Tigers have played a ranked team in Clemson without being on live TV. Last time, the Tigers beat the No. 18 Tar Heels 40-7.

I hope this isn’t because the SEC broke TV. I don’t understand how it happened. I dare Nielsen to say Idaho-Northern Illinois would rate better than Clemson-Texas Christian.

The game was moved to 3:30 p.m., typical for TV broadcasts, anyway, to accommodate fans. Playing in just their second game in the Eastern time zone since 2006, the Frogs may have been a step slower at 1 p.m. local – or a regional broadcast’s noon.

They’re an unbeaten team that began the year at No. 17 and ended last year No. 7. Their defense has been ranked No. 1 in the nation three times the last nine seasons. They’re No. 8 in defense through two games this year.

The Tigers, with a defense ranked No. 19 through three games, aren’t too shabby, either.

Many of you could watch an online broadcast on your lap-top computers, even via television screens connected with a simple cord, but the ESPN 360 online service offered free of charge in many places isn’t available everywhere, including to some cable customers in the Upstate.

They could find golf. They could find racing. They could find Family Feud, Brady Bunch and animals Untamed & Uncut at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, but they won’t tune in to Clemson football.

If they don’t make it there in person and watch the game the old-fashioned way, from the stands, they may miss a good one.

Lies and statistics

The numbers don’t always add up.

TCU (2-0) is ranked No. 14 in the nation, but unranked Clemson (2-1) is a 2.5-point favorite to win. Early returns indicate the Frogs have beaten two weak teams, including the ACC’s Virginia, while Clemson should have beaten conference foe Georgia Tech and did handle somewhat impotent Boston College.

TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes was 200 pounds when he rushed for 1,400 yards in high school. The 6-foot-3 senior now weighs 257 after reportedly reaching 265 last year. He leads the nation with 4.5 sacks.

Though ranked No. 8 in defense overall, TCU’s passing efficiency defense is just No. 43. Of course, affecting that are two touchdowns thrown by Virginia after the Cavaliers were down 30-0 with less than five minutes remaining. The Frogs lead the nation with 5.5 sacks, and their rushing defense is No. 3.

Clemson is averaging about 30 points scored per game. Thank special teams. The Tigers have yet to score a rushing touchdown. They’re ranked No. 53 in rushing offense, No. 84 in total offense and No. 93 in passing offense. They’re No. 99 in third-down efficiency. Clemson’s C.J. Spiller is No. 2 in the nation in punt returns, and he’s No. 5 in kick returns. Jacoby Ford is No. 11 in punt returns. Richard Jackson leads the nation with 11 field goals.

Hater’s game

Posted by “Coach” about Clemson this week on, after TCU’s 56-21 win over Texas State:

“They'll be throwin' everything they've got at you. So you'd better go in there ready to beat down a team playin' way above its head—because you gave 'em hope for an upset Saturday. Knock that thought right out of their skulls from the get-go and I mean literally. At the kickoff and every play there on out. Because the longer they stay close, the harder it's gonna get for us and the easier it's gonna get for them.

“Eat lightnin’ and crap thunder!!!”

Does TCU even rank in the top 10 in its own state? Why does their coach love pirates? Oh, wait, is he the one that ducked out to Alabama before ducking out to Texas A&M? Or is he the one who wanted the job at Clemson?

Postgame shake

TCU won national championships in 1935 and 1938, when Davey O’Brien won the Heisman Trophy. They named an award after him. They wear a nice shade of purple. And a Horned Frog for a mascot is kind of cool. I hope they lose with dignity.

Expect a close, low-scoring contest with the decisions of coaches Gary Patterson and Dabo Swinney thus magnified. Key Clemson offensive lineman Chris Hairston is injured but may play – against big Hughes. Spiller is slightly injured and will play. It may rain.

Strong defense and special teams make Clemson competitive against any team in two of the three phases of the game. That bodes well for Saturday, and that bodes well for the season.

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