First, is there a worse place for a freshman quarterback to make his first career road start than a place named "Death Valley"? Cam Sexton will need every bit of the calm and poise he's reported to have if he expects to eliminate mistakes and give the Heels a chance to win.
Clemson's crowd will be rowdy. I was "fortunate" enough (and I use that term loosely) to play against Clemson in Death Valley in the early 90's, and believe me when I tell you that the place can be intimidating.
Not only are there 81,000 orange and purple fans screaming their drunken heads off, the stadium decks are built at a steep angle and rise upward moreso than outward. This gives visiting players the feeling that the fans are right on top of them at field level, making it louder and more intimidating than stadiums of similar sizes.
The Tar Heels will also battle a little history. Clemson beat Florida State last week, and "since 2001, in the week following a 'Bowden Bowl,' Clemson has always duplicated their result from the previous week." In other words, Clemson should win if history is any indicator.
Speaking of history, Clemson will combine some more history with a whole lot of emotion as the Tigers will use the UNC game to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Clemson's 1981 National Championship.
Granted all of those potential problems for the Tar Heels have very little to do with the X's and O's that will take place on the field. Unfortunately, the Heels will face challenges there as well.
Clemson's defense, albeit a little banged up, held traditional power Florida State to just 204 yards last week in Tallahassee. And that's not really a big deal compared to what UNC will face in Clemson's offense.
The challenge, first and foremost, for North Carolina this weekend will be to stop the Clemson rushing attack. Clemson returns 5 starters on their offensive line and possesses two outstanding tailbacks in freshman C.J. Spiller and Maxwell Award nominee James Davis.
TigerNet.com has an outstanding preview of the game which really sums up the powerful Clemson offense:
"Clemson ranks second in the ACC in total offense, second in rushing offense and second in passing offense. Clemson leads the ACC in scoring with 38 points per game. Those are pretty strong rankings considering Clemson has played two of its three games against current top 25 teams Boston College and Florida State."Now, I know it may sound like I'm painting a doom and gloom scenario for our boys in blue this weekend, but "improbable" does not mean "impossible." There are things the Tar Heels can do to rain on Clemson's parade, and I'll cover those later in the week.