Scouting Ball State: 1-2-3, how Clemson wins...

Affect the quarterback, settle in, tap into the crowd

A solid orange crowd of Clemson fans cheer during the Clemson - Auburn game.

Photo by Mark Crammer

A solid orange crowd of Clemson fans cheer during the Clemson - Auburn game.

How the Tigers Win...

1. Rattle the quarterback: It won't be easy. Since taking over the starting quarterback position for the Cardinals three games into his freshman year, junior Keith Wenning has led the Ball State attack with poise and efficiency. He passed for nearly 2,800 yards last season, and operates behind an all-veteran offensive line that has combined for 109 career starts and allowed just 11 sacks last season, which ranked 12th in the nation. It shapes up as another important early-season best for Clemson's young defensive line, which needs to show that it can do its part in forcing a good offense out of its favorite mode of operation.

2. Play their game: Starting the season with an opponent like Auburn in a bowl-like setting was not business-as-usual. This week the Tigers need to take care of their business as a favorite, at home, against a capable underdog. They can do it by executing efficiently on both sides of the line of scrimmage and letting their talent edge do the rest. Ball State ranked near the bottom of the FBS list last season in most defensive categories.

3. Ride the emotion: Clemson fans are excited about the season, and will be out in force for the first home game of the year. That should make a difference as the Tigers re-focus after their Georgia Dome opener. If the Valley's rocking, the Tigers should roll.

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