BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
1) It’s not an officially branded battle for bragging rights, like the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in basketball, but the ACC gets three shots at the big, bad SEC in the first three days of the season.
Besides the ballyhooed Georgia-Clemson showdown, North Carolina travels to South Carolina Thursday night and Virginia Tech tangles with defending national champion Alabama in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic on Saturday night.
One ACC host, one SEC host, one neutral. Doesn’t get fairer than that … well, other than the matchups,.
The SEC is favored in all three games. Georgia (-1.5) vs. Clemson is a tossup, but Alabama (-20) and South Carolina (-12.5) are expected to win handily as top-ten teams facing unranked opponents.
“It’s very obvious that the one thing the ACC needs to do to establish our reputation is to do well against nonconference teams,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said, later adding Alabama is the best team he’s coached against in his 27 years leading the Hokies.
“Of course, I think the SEC is without a doubt the best conference in the country. So when you play an SEC team, it probably has an extra meaning in that regard.”
It’s just the second year of the Larry Fedora regime at North Carolina, and the Tar Heels’ encouraging first year sees a matchup with Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks for an encore.
“You know, would I prefer that it be three or four years into the program and the changes that we get into place? Hey, it is what it is,” Fedora said. “We are playing in year two, and it’s the opening game of college football, and so let’s throw it out there and let’s roll.
“If we are going to accomplish the things that we want to accomplish as a league, these are the kind of games we have got to play in and these are the kind of games that they have to have success in.”
As a top dog in the ACC, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney felt less compelled to buy into the ACC-SEC comparison. But he’s certainly not shy of scheduling against the league that’s won seven straight national titles with four different programs.
“As far as the SEC goes and all that, we’ve been playing SEC teams every year and been in a lot of battles with that league,” Swinney said. “Our guys have a good understanding of what it takes to be able to beat a very good team regardless of what conference they come from.”
2) Late in quarterback Tajh Boyd’s press conference in the WestZone team room – he’s only the second player to get his own stage in front of reporters in that particular setting – the reigning ACC Player of the Year boyishly admitted he did catch SportsCenter’s promotional video featuring South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and three opposing quarterbacks.
The premise was three separate rooms with actors portraying Boyd, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Florida’s Jeff Driskel, each trying to get some sleep. Yet they’re awoken by nightmares of getting sacked by Clowney, and it certainly doesn’t help that South Carolina cheerleaders have somehow infiltrated their bedrooms.
Boyd had just one problem with it, though.
“He wore a gray wife beater. I don’t even wear those things,” Boyd said of the actor, drawing laughter. “They need to do a better job with that one. But I thought it was kind of funny.
“They had Aaron with the slick hair, I was like, oh man. At least my guy had a helmet on.”
So Boyd denied he wears wife beaters to bed. He made no such denial of clutching a Clemson-themed teddy bear while he slumbers.
Here’s the video:
3) Our columnist, Gene Sapakoff, was told a pretty interesting stat about expected visitors to the Georgia-Clemson game, and he’s not referring to recruits:
29 NFL scouts will attend the Georgia-Clemson game. Previous Death Valley record: 18
— Gene Sapakoff (@Sapakoff) August 27, 2013
4) If you’re in the Clemson area Friday, you can get your picture taken with the crystal football trophy awarded to the future 2013 BCS champion while picking up some groceries and supplies at a discounted price.
Wal-Mart in Seneca (1-3 p.m.) and Central, SC (4-6 p.m.) will display the trophy, and fans can be photographed for free, a promotion through Dr. Pepper. The crystal ball will travel throughout the season, and this is its first stop in Clemson since 2000 during a N.C. State game.
Oh, and the trophy is valued at $30,000. Don’t drop it.
5) In ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski’s 100 Things He Loves About College Football, five were directly related to Clemson in various ways.
They had to do with Tajh Boyd’s Heisman candidacy, Dabo Swinney sharing a state with Steve Spurrier, Daniel Rodriguez’s road from Army sergeant to walk-on wide receiver, rubbing Howard’s Rock and dining at the Esso Club.
6) From Georgia beat writer Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegram: Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham compares Boyd to Donovan McNabb.
Georgia DC Todd Grantham, an assistant at Va. Tech in the late ’90s, said Tajh Boyd reminds him of Donovan McNabb when he was at Syracuse.
— Seth Emerson (@SethEmerson) August 27, 2013
7) And finally, if you’re making the drive up from Charleston to Clemson on Friday, or you’re just around your computer, listen in to Clemson Sports Talk on iHeart Radio and 560theteam.com. Lawton Swann will be hosting a show from 6-8 p.m. to preview the Georgia game, and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed both my appearances so far on his program. Laid-back, solid points, not too corny. Enjoy.