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Citadel to Face Top-Ranked Clemson

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Manning Snyder previews The Citadel's game at Clemson.

By Manning Snyder

Overview
The Citadel Bulldogs face the Clemson Tigers Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC. The game will be televised at 4pm on ACC Network. Clemson rolled over Wake Forest in the first game of their season last week, while The Citadel lost an away game to South Florida. The game will be an ultimate contrast in styles: Clemson, with the number-one team in the country, has an explosive offense with numerous threats to defenses, namely quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. The Citadel, on the other hand, has a methodical, time-killing,  run-dominant approach to their offensive attack. But the matchup will also be an ultimate contrast in hair styles: the conditioned and groomed locks of Trevor Lawrence competing against some of the bald-headed Bulldog freshmen (called knobs). Joking aside,  Clemson’s defense is also spectacular as they allowed Wake Forest to gain only 15 first downs all game.

Why To Watch
The last time The Citadel played a #1 team was in 2018 against Alabama. The game was extremely tight...for a half. After the game was tied 10-10 at the intermission, the Crimson Tide went on to win 50 to 17. Perhaps the same kind of wake up call could happen Saturday. This is, by no means, predicting a Citadel victory or even a tied halftime score. But looking back at the history of Bulldog performances against FBS opponents, maybe The Citadel does something radical like score the first touchdown or take a kick return to the house. For the Tigers, Dabo Swinney and his staff will look to build off of a routine win last weekend, and get some more reps in for the second and third-string players. Clemson will be allowing 19,000 fans inside Memorial Stadium. It will be interesting to see how loud the stadium will get, and what effect that might have on the players in terms of a true “home-field advantage.”

The Citadel Players to Watch
LB Marquise Blount
As I mentioned in last week’s USF recap article, Marquise Blount had an impressive game in the season opener. The junior linebacker will be looking to build on a 7-tackle, 1-sack performance, this time against one of the best offenses in college football. Playing alongside Willie Edwards III, with a good game and remained of the shortened season, Blount could find himself on some NFL draft big boards come spring. Blount and The Citadel defense will have their hands full, but perhaps a sack or two of Trevor Lawrence could provide a highlight for the Bulldogs.

P Matt Campbell
Last week, the junior Bulldog punter went viral on social media for the wrong reason. He botched a kick, then kicked it in the air five yards into the waiting arms of a South Florida player parked in the endzone.  Despite the mishap, the kid still has a boot. Against perhaps the toughest opponent Cambell will face in his career in Clemson, expect Campbell to have the game of his life. I’m talking about 50-yard bombs that will soar through the crisp upstate air, so high that viewers from the Death Valley foothills will see the ball. Not only will the contest be an opportunity to prove his haters wrong (I’m looking at you internet trolls), but Campbell might be the busiest member of the Bulldogs team Saturday as The Citadel will likely be punting.. a lot. I have the ultimate faith in Campbell to bounce back on the biggest stage.

Clemson Players To Watch
RB Travis Etienne
While Trevor Lawrence has dominated the headlines as a Heisman Trophy favorite this season, little attention has been placed on the dominant performances of Tiger running back Travis Etienne. The senior returned to Clemson despite a high draft status, and has rushed for over 4,000 yards in his career wearing the orange-and-white jersey.  He started off the season with 102 yards rushing against Wake Forest last weekend. 

DE Myles Murphy
The 6-5, 275 defensive end recorded 2 sacks and 7 tackles for the Tigers against Wake Forest. The true freshman doesn’t even start for the Tigers, and is listed as their #3 defensive end behind Justin Foster and KJ Henry. But Murphy’s dominance should show you the depth Clemson has on both sides of the ball, but particularly on defense. Murphy is unlikely to record two sacks again on Saturday against the Bulldogs due to their offensive style, but he will have plenty of action against the rushing attack. 

Keys To Game
Clemson shouldn’t have any trouble against their in-state foe, and their biggest question could be how early to take out their offensive and defensive starters. For The Citadel, the game will be a chance for some lesser-known players to showcase their talent on national television (and in front of fans, I might add). Expect Edwards to have another big game for the Bulldogs, and look for The Citadel to work on their team identity. While they might not be able to consistently drive the ball against the Tigers, they can control their penalties and effort throughout the contest. Look for the Bulldogs to be more disciplined than in their season opener.

Manning’s Fun Facts
*Since 2012, no FCS school has scored more than 13 points against Clemson (all games were at home). Maybe The Citadel breaks this record Saturday?

*Last week against South Florida, The Citadel’s freshman kicker Colby Kintner nailed field goals from 45 and 41 yards, respectively. Per The Citadel’s game notes, it was the first time since 2015 that a Bulldog kicker had made more than two field goals over 40 yards. 

Conclusion
Clemson is a clear favorite to once again win the ACC and find itself among the four teams in the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs will use this game to gain experience for all of their players and to grow their name to football viewers outside of the Southeast. The Citadel could surprise some people in the first half if Clemson doesn’t come to play. But the Tigers will likely show up. And dominate. But The Citadel will return home with a sizable check having just given a once-in-a-lifetime experience to their players.