Maryland ventures to Clemson this week to visit a place the Terrapins have played remarkably well in the last decade.
And they'll be taking on a team off to its worst conference start in a dozen years.
No, it's not 1998 all over again in Death Valley. Far from it. Clemson committed six turnovers and still had some hope in the fourth quarter against Miami. The Tigers didn't utilize Andre Ellington and still had a chance to win at North Carolina.
It's not a pretty picture, and Clemson finds itself without a victory after two ACC games for only the ninth time. How the previous eight instances shook out is, indeed, not a terribly flattering collection of teams:
CLEMSON'S WORST ACC STARTS AFTER TWO LEAGUE GAMES
|1953||0-2||W, 18-0 (Wake Forest)
|1957||0-2||W, 20-6 (at Virginia)
|1963||0-2||W, 35-0 (at Virginia)
|1974||0-2||W, 17-13 (Duke)
||L, 38-21 (at N.C. State)
|1992||0-2||W, 29-28 (at Virginia)
|1994||0-2||W, 13-0 (Maryland)
|1998||0-2||L, 21-14 (at North Carolina)
||0-2||vs. Maryland, Oct. 16
What to take from this?
1. Clemson has never gone to a bowl game after failing to win one of its first two ACC games. Only three out of eight times did the Tigers even manage a winning record. And back then there were only a fraction of the postseason games there are now. So that figure is mildly misleading. Still, there's no questioning a 2-3 team that still must face Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Florida State and South Carolina is in a vulnerable position right now.
2. Clemson has only one 0-3 start in ACC play. That was in 1998, Tommy West's final season. Things didn't get worse, though, since Maryland cushioned the fall that year with a 23-0 loss to the Tigers. Well, they did get worse, but not in an oh-fer sense.
Needless to say, Saturday's game is a huge one for the Tigers. Chances are, the outcome will reflect more about how Dabo Swinney's team handles its situation than anything about Maryland --- which isn't a bad place for the Terrapins to be coming out of their bye week.