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Historical Eye of the Tiger: Clemson vs. Boston College

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The Beantown Brawlers descend on Death Valley for another ACC Atlantic Division bout with the Tigers.

To quote kurtlikevonnegut: "Kearse is my spirit animal"
To quote kurtlikevonnegut: "Kearse is my spirit animal"
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

This weekend Steve Addazio brings his Boston College Eagles baseball football team down South for the annual ACC Atlantic Division showdown with Dabo Swinney's Clemson Tigers. The Eagles offense has struggled to get off the ground, literally (on a per-game basis, they're rushing 48 times out of 67 plays on average) and figuratively (averaging just 20.7 points per game, but subtract their two opening wins over FCS powers Maine (W 24-3) & Howard (W 76-0) and that stat plummets to an unbelievably paltry 4 points per game against FSU, Northern Illinois, Duke, and Wake Forest, all of which have had their struggles defensively). These offensive woes have overshadowed the Eagles' stellar pitching and defense (#1 in the nation statistically), which has allowed just 7.2 points and 140 yards per game (still impressive at 10 points and 185 yards per game if Maine and Howard are omitted). If only Boston's beloved Red Sox had been so potent on offense (scored just 4.62 runs per game) and stingy on defense (allowed 4.64 runs per game) they might have made the playoffs and improved upon their 78-84 record and fifth-place AL East finish.

Of course, not everyone is deflated in Beantown. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have been pumped up in getting off to a rousing 4-0 start, posting 37 points per game and holding the opposition to just 19 per. Will the Addazio channel his inner Belichick to turn the Eagles' season around, or will his squad go the way of the BoSox and continue to flounder? Will his diamond dandies gritty gridders finally get the big hit with runners on punch it in the endzone and continue to stymie the opposition, or will Clemson's defense pitch a shutout of its own while the Tigers' offense exposes the Eagles' defense as a fraud? As the old saying goes, that's why they play the game.

O'Rouke-McFadden MVP

The O'Rouke-McFadden MVP Helmets

Clemson and Boston College have a long history that dates all the way back to the 1940 Cotton Bowl Classic, when Banks McFadden and the Tigers upset Charley O'Rourke and the Eagles 6-3. The two teams played sporadically from that 1940 meeting until 1960 (11 games), but did not play again until 1982-1983 (with current Eagles QB Troy Flutie's uncle Doug Flutie leading BC to a 17-17 tie at Clemson in 1982, then orchestrating a 31-16 victory in Chestnut Hill from under center the following year). The two programs had another hiatus until 2005, when they began to meet every year as ACC Atlantic Division rivals. The Tigers hold a 13-9-2 overall record against the Eagles, including a 5-3-1 mark in the Valley. Following' BC's entry into the ACC in 2005, and three nail-biters between the two new ACC rivals (the Matt Ryan years when the Tigers lost 16-13 in 2005, 34-33 in 2006, and 20-17 in 2007), the Boston College Gridiron Club decided in 2008 to fan the rivalry's flames and tout its illustrious history by awarding the winning team of the Clemson-Boston College game the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy and rewarding the MVP of the game a replica leather helmet. Since that time, Clemson has dominated the series and taken home the hardware and the helmet with a 6-1 mark, including last year's 17-13 slugfest.

Stoudt 2014

Cole Stoudt 2014 O'Rouke-McFadden MVP

Given the statistical similarities between the Eagles' offensive output this year and a baseball box score, one of the most interesting historical statistics concerning this North-South rivalry is that seven of the games have been played in baseball venues. The Tigers complied a 1-1-1 record in three games at iconic Fenway Park between 1941 and 1953. The Tigers first win came in the first Fenway meeting by a score of 26-13. The Tigers lost the following year by a 14-7 score, before returning eleven years later to tie the Eagles 14-14 in the shadow of the Green Monster. During the same era, the Tigers also played four games against the Eagles at the home of the then Boston (now Atlanta) Braves, going 3-1 in those matchups. That superb record got off to an inauspicious start, however, as the Tigers dropped the first meeting at Braves Field in 1947 by a score of 32-22. They then reeled off three straight victories at the venue, however, winning 26-19 in 1948, 35-14 in 1950, and 13-0 in 1952. Overall Clemson has a slim 7-6-1 advantage over the BC in Boston-Chestnut Hill matchups.

Clemson at Fenway

Clemson at Fenway Park 1942, Photo by Leslie Jones courtesy of https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:rr172n52c

Despite just eight all-time meetings in Death Valley, the Tigers have displayed considerable prowess in grounding the Eagles in those matchups. All five home wins have been by double-digit margins, while the losses, except for the first home bout in 1949 (a 40-27 Eagles victory), closely contested affairs (17-17 in 1982; 16-13 in 2005; 20-17 in 2007). Clemson won its second home game against the Eagles by a score of 21-2 in 1951, prevailed again 34-12 in 1958, and have won the last three more recent home meetings (25-7 in 200936-14 in 201124-14 in 2013) in convincing fashion.

Wins over Boston College typically have special significance for the Tigers: Two of Clemson's undefeated seasons have included wins over the Eagles (26-19 en route to an 11-0 season in 1948 and 35-14 en route to a 9-0-1 season in 1950); Dabo Swinney's first victory as the Tigers' head coach came at Boston College in 2008 by a 27-21 margin; and each of the last three home wins over BC have been part of special seasons for Swinney and Clemson, as Clemson went 9-4 in 2009, winning the ACC Atlantic Division and narrowly losing the ACC title to Georgia Tech, topped that finish two years later with a 10-4 record and the program's first ACC title in twenty years, and earned the third of four straight double-digit-win season in 2013. A win in 2015 would also be historic, as it would mark the 14th straight win in Death Valley (dating back to the 2013 loss to FSU). That would break the previous record of 13 straight wins accomplished twice in two separate venues. From 1927-1931 the Tigers won 13 straight when they played their home games at (now) Historic Riggs Field. The 2011 Tigers went undefeated (7-0) at home, and the 2012 squad won its first six contests to account for the longest winning streak in Memorial Stadium. A win Saturday would obviously set a new standard for consecutive home victories.

Clemson Summer

"Clemson Summer" by Steven Jordan, print available for purchase at http://stevenjordan.myshopify.com/products/clemson-summer

Given the Tigers' emerging offensive potency and stalwart defense thus far in 2015, they should draw on these past successes to ensure that the immediate future remains bright. The sun finally returns should continue to shine in all of its orange-and-white brilliance on Saturday, as the Tigers look to extend their historic advantage over the Eagles with another double-digit home win in reaching the half-season mark a perfect 6-0.

GO TIGERS!