Dueling Columns: Football matchup predictions

Frogs won’t be scared going into Death Valley

As the Frogs walk through the shadow of Death Valley on Saturday, they will be as solid as Howard’s Rock and ready to roll over a Tiger squad plagued by illness and injury.

Horned Frog consensus All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes will have a great day to pad his stats, tearing through a flu-ridden Clemson offensive line. Look for Hughes to sack Tiger quarterback Kyle Parker at least three times before the game is over.

The Frogs glaring weakness from the past two weeks has been in the secondary. Senior cornerback Rafael Priest said he planned on pushing his corps to practice this week at a much faster, game-like pace, to raise their performance to an acceptable level this weekend. However, even if the coverage backs are at an average level, Parker won’t have enough time to get a firm grip on the laces before he has Hughes within a step. And though the Tigers feature an impact runner, C.J. Spiller, in the backfield, no team can beat the Frogs on the ground. They made this known last year, finishing as the number one defense in the nation.

TCU found it’s stride on offense last week, as quarterback Andy Dalton went 18 for 24 for 222 yards with one interception. The only way to stop this Horned Frog offense is to force turnovers, which if last year carries over, can be few and far between. Halfback Joseph Turner ran for more than 100 yards for the third time in his career last week, carrying the Horned Frog offense through the game. To the Tiger fans, who are accustomed to stellar runners like Spiller, this might not seem as impressive. But Turner gained this real estate on only 13 carries averaging 9.9 yards a carry. With the Frogs’ halfback rotation, Turner’s legs will always stay fresh and ready to pound his way to the goal line.

The Tigers sport a below average 7-11-1 record against non-conference Top 25 teams compared to TCU’s 16-8 record against BCS automatic qualifying teams in the Gary Patterson era.

Both teams have said they are looking for this game to put their team on the map, but the Frogs will finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together Saturday in South Carolina and come up victorious by a 13-point spread.

Sports editor Travis L. Brown is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Dallas.

Speed and defense holds edge over Frogs

The Clemson Tigers are coming off a sloppy win against Boston College this past weekend that seemed more like a marathon than a football game. The game in Clemson this past Saturday was delayed twice due to lightning, which dragged out the contest between the Tigers and Eagles into an almost five-hour ordeal.

Nevertheless, Clemson managed to hold an Eagles offense that had outscored their previous two opponents on the season by a combined total of 88-7 to a mere 56 offensive yards. At the end of the first half, the Tigers had held Boston College to minus 3 yards and one first down that came by way of penalty.

So far this season, the Clemson defense has been the story. Led by junior safety DeAndre McDaniel, who has four interceptions in the first three games, the Tiger defense has been stout. Allowing an average of 257 yards per game, first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s new and improved scheme seems to be working out just fine for the Tigers. Defensive ends Ricky Sapp and Da’Quan Bowers are two of the conference’s most feared pass rushers, while tackles Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins round out what is arguably the best defensive line in the country.

Offensively, the Tigers have not been much to write home about so far this year. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kyle Parker has met his expectations as a starter thus far, but hasn’t really dazzled anyone like he is capable of. Running back C.J. Spiller has been limited somewhat with a foot injury early on in the season, but that has not stopped him from returning a kickoff and punt for touchdowns already this year. Speed at wide receiver has benefited the Clemson offense, which has had to replace the likes of Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham. Senior speedster Jacoby Ford leads the team in receptions with 14 and has more than 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with it.

When it all boils down, the Tigers do hold a slight edge over the Horned Frogs in terms of team speed and defense. Undoubtedly, both teams will be the toughest competition the other has faced thus far this season. But in the end, Clemson’s front seven will be too much to handle for the TCU offensive line and will throw Andy Dalton off his timing making the Horned Frogs one-dimensional.

Final score: Clemson 17, TCU 10.

Brandon Boatwright is the sports editor for the (Clemson) Tiger.