Hurricane Ian could add another dramatic layer to Textile Bowl

Ahead of Clemson’s top-10 tussle with N.C. State this week – one that figures to go a long way toward deciding the Atlantic Division race –

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said he’s always considered the annual meeting between the ACC foes a tough out for his team.

The scoreboard hasn’t necessarily indicated that, though N.C. State has become more competitive with the Tigers in recent years.

With that has come a few extra layers of spice added to the Textile Bowl rivalry.

The drama could go up another level on Saturday with Mother Nature threatening to make its presence felt inside Memorial Stadium.

Clemson and N.C. State have recently been going at each other in more ways than one, particularly since Dave Doeren took over the Wolkpack’s program nine years ago.

There was the incident during the 2015 meeting where one of Doeren’s former assistants shoved former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.

There was Doeren’s “we knocked their tailback out of the game” comment on his coach’s show in 2016, a reference to Clemson running back Wayne Gallman being injured during that game.

There was Bradley Chubb stealing Kelly Bryant’s hand towels in 2017, the same game after which Doeren said he wanted Clemson’s use of a laptop on the sideline investigated by the ACC.

A year later, Swinney admittedly trolled Doeren when Clemson used a play card showing a picture of a computer on its sideline.

Doeren also wasn’t a fan of the Tigers calling on former linebacker James Skalski to kick an extra point late during Clemson’s blowout win in 2019.

All of those games were wins for the Tigers, but Doeren and his program got over the Clemson hump last season when the Wolfpack ended eight consecutive games’ worth of Textile Bowl futility with a double-overtime win at home.

Now Clemson is trying to avoid its first losing streak in the series since the early 2000s.

But Saturday may be about braving the elements for both teams as much as it is withstanding each other.

With Hurricane Ian making its way up the East Coast, rain is expected to move into the Clemson area Friday night and continue Saturday.

A 90% chain of heavy rain is being forecasted during the day Saturday with a 60% chance of precipitation that night, according to the National Weather Service.

Clemson and N.C. State are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.

Earlier this week, Doeren, whose team will be making its first trip to Memorial Stadium since 2018, expressed some concern with his team traveling amid those projected conditions, though, as of Wednesday afternoon,

the Wolfpack’s travel plans had not been altered. While dates and venues of some other games in the Southeast have been changed in response to the storm,

including South Carolina’s home game against South Carolina State (moved from Saturday to Thursday), no changes have been made to the Clemson-N.C. State game at this point.

A team spokesperson said Clemson is monitoring the weather situation.

Swinney and Doeren both said their teams will get in plenty of wet-ball drills during practice this week in preparation for the conditions they will likely be dealing with come Saturday night.

The possibility of strong winds also exists, which could further impact game plans on each side.

“(Quarterback) D.J. (Uiagalelei) has got a good arm, but I don’t if it’s that good,” Swinney said.

 “I don’t know if anybody’s going to set any passing records if you get a situation like that.

You’ve got to find a way to win the game regardless of what the elements are. If it’s run it 70 times or throw it 70 times, you just try to find a way each and every week.”

If the weather stays true to the forecasts, it wouldn’t be the first time Swinney and Doeren have watched one of their teams try to execute in the face of heavy precipitation.

In 2015, Clemson and Notre Dame played on the same field amid a torrential downpour brought on by Hurricane Joaquin, a game that saw the Fighting Irish cough up the ball four times as Clemson held on for a 24-22 win.

A year later, it was Doeren’s team that hosted Notre Dame as sheets of rain from Hurricane Matthew pelted Carter-Finley Stadium.

The Wolfpack did just enough to get out of the mud with a 10-3 victory.

“That was nuts,” Doeren recalled. “But we’ll be prepared if it is raining.”

It’s got all the makings of another Textile Bowl matchup that will have plenty of people talking for one reason or another. “We’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Doeren said.

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