Countdown to Kickoff: Clemson vs. Auburn (Video)
||CLEMSON at AUBURN
7 p.m. CT
Pat Dye Field/Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
|LIVE TV: ESPN
[Brent Musburger, play-by-play; Kirk Herbstreit, analyst; Erin Andrews, sidelines]
Dabo Swinney is in his second full season at Clemson and overall with a record of 15-8 (.652). The Tigers’ offensive coordinator is Billy Napier and the co-defensive coordinator are Charlie Harbison and Kevin Steele.
Gene Chizik is in his second season at Auburn with a record of 10-5 (.667) and in his fourth season overall with a record of 15-24 (.385). The Tigers’ offensive coordinator is Gus Malzahn and the defensive coordinator is Ted Roof.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL
Kyle Parker was the only freshman quarterback nationally to take his team to a conference championship game in 2009. His passing efficiency of 192.2 would be first in the ACC and fifth in the nation if he had enough attempts to qualify. So far he is 15-26 for 283 yards and four touchdowns against just one interception. He has the Tigers off to a 2-0 start and is now 11-5 in his career as a starting quarterback. Clemson leads the ACC in touchdown passes with seven.
Nick Fairley was clearly the defensive star of the game for Auburn against Mississippi State, totaling five tackles including 2.5 for losses and 1.5 sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and three quarterback hurries. He is now tied with Antoine Carter for the team lead in both sacks (3.0) and tackles for loss (4.0). Daren Bates started all 13 games at safety as a true freshman in 2009, but converted to linebacker prior to this season. Bates led the team with a career-high 10 tackles in the season opener against Arkansas State.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN AUBURN HAS THE BALL
Andre Branch has three sacks in the first two games to rank 11th in the nation in that category. He is 14th in tackles for loss per game. Clemson has eight sacks so far this year and the 4.0 per game average is fifth best in the nation. Clemson is also eighth Clemson is also eighth in the country in overall tackles for loss per game with a 9.5 average.
The Tigers rank ninth nationally in rushing offense (278.5) and 20th in total offense (478.0). In 15 games under Malzahn, Auburn has totaled at least 500 yards of offense five times. The Tigers now have three of the top 10 individual rushers in the SEC this season, as Cameron Newton ranks second in the conference and 16th nationally averaging 120.5 yards per game, while Onterio McCalebb (72.0) and Michael Dyer (71.5) rank eighth and ninth, respectively, in the SEC in rushing. Newton is second in the SEC and tied for 21st in total offense (281.5), third in the league and sixth nationally in passing efficiency (186.51).
Punter Dawson Zimmerman leads the nation in punting with a 49.78 average. He has averaged at least 46 yards a punt in each his first two games, the top two games of his career. Marcus Gilchrist is sixth in the nation in punt returns with a 23.75 average. He is the main reason Clemson is 17th in the nation as a team in that category. Gilchrist is averaging 29 yards on two kickoff returns, but does not have enough returns to be ranked. Freshman placekicker Chandler Catanzaro is a perfect 11-11 on extra points and made his only field goal attempt, a 47-yarder against Presbyterian.
Wes Byrum had a field goal attempt blocked in the fourth quarter at Mississippi State, snapping a streak of nine consecutive made field goal attempts dating back to last season. His last previous miss was at Tennessee in 2009. He has hit 17 of his last 19 after hitting just 11-of-19 in 2008. Demond Washington ranks third in the SEC averaging 27.1 yards per kickoff return, and had 126 kickoff return yards against Arkansas State, which is the 12th best total in school history.
Record: AU, 33-11-2
Auburn and Clemson have met 46 times, with Auburn holding a 33-11-2 edge in the series...The last two meetings have been in bowl games, with Auburn winning both the 1998 Peach Bowl following the 1997 season and the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl... Prior to that, the teams played each year from 1967-71, with Auburn winning all five games... In fact, Auburn has won the last 13 games in the series dating back to a 34-0 Clemson victory in 1951. The first meeting was in 1899, with Auburn winning at home, 34-0.