After an early bye week, the Clemson Tigers are set to play the Virginia Cavaliers this Saturday Oct. 3 at 8:00 p.m. for a rematch of last year's ACC Championship, where Clemson beat Virginia 62-17. Although the game may be a little closer this year, Clemson is still favored to win the game by a pretty comfortable margin.
Usually by this time in October, the college football season is well underway. But now, with COVID-19 altering everyone’s schedule, Clemson has only played two games and is coming off of a bye week, and Virginia has only played one other game this season because a rise in COVID-19 cases cancelled their previously scheduled game against Virginia Tech. Luckily, both teams managed to keep their COVID-19 numbers low this past week and are still able to keep this game scheduled on time.
Virginia is coming off of an exciting 38-20 win over Duke and they certainly will be looking to get revenge on Clemson tonight. It is important to remember that although Clemson beat Virginia by 45 points, Virginia was able to do a lot of things that other teams have not been able to do to Clemson. For one, the Cavillers were 10 for 18 on third down and their offense had the ball more than the Tigers did. That will be key for Virginia to do again, as they have to try and keep the ball out of Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s offense’s hands.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in this week's press conference that Virginia “is a team and a culture and a program that has been building each year” and “they are probably one of the more experienced teams out there.” Coach Swinney also praised Virginia’s quarterback Brandon Armstrong, comparing him to Steve Young. This is a team that was good enough to make it to the ACC Championship last year, and Dabo believes that they have the talent to do it again this year.
That being said, Clemson still has more depth and more talent than Virginia. Trevor Lawrence is coming off of one of his most impressive and efficient games against the Citadel. Although he did not play the whole game, eight of his nine passes were completed, and he threw for 168-yards, two of which were absolute dimes and resulted in touchdowns. And then Clemson’s defense has been nothing but dominant, forcing a shutout against the Citadel. Freshman defensive end Myles Murphy and defensive lineman Bryan Bresee have exceeded the already high expectations that fans have for them, and they will continue to wreak havoc against Virginia in today’s game.
Being the first night game in Death Valley, there is certainly going to be extra excitement on the field and in the stands. Expect Virginia to fight hard, but for Clemson to be the better team and therefore win by at least 14 points.