Clemson formidable foe for State

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 27, 1999

Don’t let Clemson’s 6-5 mark fool you. Mississippi State will have its hands full against the Tigers in Thursday’s Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

The fact Clemson is a 2 1/2-point favorite should be reason enough to expect a tough game for the Bulldogs.

But other things to consider.

Email newsletter signup

Clemson played the third toughest schedule in the nation according to the final Jeff Sagarin rankings.

The Tigers played the only three undefeated teams in college football this year (Marshall, Virginia Tech and Florida State).

Six of the teams on Clemson’s schedule are in bowl games. Only South Carolina (9) and Notre Dame (8) played more.

While State is 9-2 and Clemson is 6-5, the Tigers are ranked No. 19 in the Sagarin Ranking.

State is rated No. 16 in USA Today.

Clemson is 12-10 overall in bowl games, while State is 4-6 in bowl games.

&uot;We wanted to play the highest ranked team, and the Peach Bowl should be commended for getting the highest ranked team available,&uot; said first-year Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden, who was at Tulane last year.

Transition: We’re excited to be the lower ranked team at a bowl we probably don’t belong in, so we will be sky high. We feel like we have nothing to lose and more to gain so we will be looser and play harder.

State is none for its tenacious defense, while its offense has struggled.

Clemson has already faced some tough defenses in Virginia Tech, Marshall, Florida State and South Carolina.

State will have its hands full with Clemson sophomore quarterback Woodrow Dantzler, who has been mentioned as a 2000 Heisman Trophy candidate.

Playing just 26 quarters, Dantzler set a Clemson record for total offense per game at 231 yards.

Dantzler gained 580 yards, which is just five less yards than Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick.

Clemson senior starting quarterback Brandon Streeter dislocated his hip against Georgia Tech, but returned the next week against South Carolina.

This will be the first time State and Clemson have met in a bowl game, but the second time Clemson has faced State coach Jackie Sherrill.

In 1977, Sherrill was the head coach at Pittsburgh and his Panther team defeated Clemson 34-3 in the Gator Bowl. Clemson first-year coaches are 5-1 in bowl games and that loss to Sherrill and the Panthers is the one loss.

Thursday’s game is the third straight time Clemson has had to face a nine-win SEC team in the Peach Bowl.

LSU was 9-2 when they beat Clemson 10-7 in 1996.

Auburn was 9-3 when it beat Clemson 21-17 the following year.

Mississippi State is making its 11th bowl appearance. The Bulldogs are 4-6 overall, including 0-2 in the Peach Bowl.

The losses were to North Carolina and North Carolina State.

One interesting note is the fact that when Clemson beat Mississippi State 21-7 in 1948 in Starkville, the late Jerry Clower was a defensive lineman for the Bulldogs.

State and Clemson tied 7-7 in 1949 in the two teams’ only other meeting.

Kickoff for Thursday’s game is 7:30 p.m.

The ESPN announcers are Dave Barnett, Bill Curry and Dave Ryan.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at