The Importance of Proximity: A Clemson Preview

Bobby Dodd Stadium's running attendance numbers since expansion.
Let's talk about attendance because it's probably my favorite stat to track regarding our team. It's the only statistic related to the game that is truly dictated by the fans. First number: 2,711,526. This number is how many people have attended Bobby Dodd Stadium since its expansion to a 55,000 capacity limit. Second number: 214,853. This is how many people have attended the four Clemson games since 2003 (average attendance of 53,713). Clemson games have accounted for 7.27% of our total games since 2003 but have accounted for 7.92% of the ticket sales. Clemson games outsell non-Clemson games at Bobby Dodd by 4,759 tickets. Even at the cheapest ticket prices available that's around +$200,000 per Clemson game in average ticket revenue.

According to Common Census, Clemson fans are concentrated in four major areas of South Carolina: Greenville, North Augusta, Charleston, and Florence. The Midlands and rural Pee Dee are mostly Coot Country. Considering the next closest ACC-laden city is the UNC stronghold of Asheville, this makes the Tigers a fairly important rival for Tech outside of Georgie. Everyone loves road trips and when 90% of your rival's fan base is within a 5 hour radius, it makes the rivalry that much more tangible.

But I think what makes the rivalry even more enjoyable than the Georgie rivalry is that most Tech fans don't have to live within a stone's throw of Clemson fans. The proximity is within arm's reach but outside the media coverage radius so fans don't really have to listen to each others exploits or failures on a daily basis. Clemson lives just far enough away to keep the rivalry heated but hospitable (as opposed to Georgie which is just heated and terrible).

The preview will be short for the game because I'm not really up for predicting this game. Predicting the Clemson game ever has been a travesty. Out of 10 different predictions From the Rumble Seat bloggers have only been within a touchdown of either Clemson or GT's score twice. No one knows who the Hell is gonna win. Vegas currently has the game with Clemson as a 4.5 point favorite with an over/under of 63.5 points. Vegas thinks Tech is going to score around 4 touchdowns based on that logic despite the fact that Tech hasn't scored 4 offensive touchdowns in a game since October 1st. Someone in Vegas knows something I must not about Clemson's D or Tech's O...

I do like Tech's small and vastly improved defense against Clemson. I think we've got the ability to slow down the deep passing game. With Andre Ellington possibly out, I like Tech's 3-4 against the Clemson O-line, which has already given up 16 sacks in 2011. Young RB's are gonna have a hard time stopping our blitzing linebackers.

I think the real question is whether or not our offense will show up to play. It is a rivalry game and we struggled mightily against Clemson in 2010. Clemson returns about 68% of the tackles against Tech's 2010 squad so hopes of an improved offensive performance are probably out the window.

Prediction
Tech is not good offensively and needs to develop some toughness before we win a game like this. If we win, I will be immensely happy. However, I cannot pick a Tiger. Go Tech. 20-14 win.
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