Where Does Death Valley Rank?
Over the past 10 years, I have covered games at many of the elite college football schools across the country. I would rank Clemson’s atmosphere as one of the better ones I have seen in person. But there are a handful I have experienced that are clearly on another level, including LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, among a few others.
I felt the ambience at Clemson was similar to that at West Virginia in some ways, but I still contend that the scene in Morgantown offers a more hostile environment for visiting teams. One of the really cool atmospheres is in Eugene, where I covered Oregon-USC last season. It really confused me when most of the fans exited the stadium at halftime. But then I learned they traditionally go to the parking lots to drink. A horn blares five minutes before the third quarter starts, altering buzzed fans to start staggering back to their seats for the second half.
I asked a few of Maryland’s most experienced players where Clemson’s atmosphere ranks in their minds. Center Edwin Williams said West Virginia was probably the craziest place he has played, but he said Clemson was the toughest in the ACC.
“The atmosphere is crazy,” Williams said. “It is what you expect in college football. Having everyone yelling at you. It is what you expect and look forward to playing for a Division I team. I have to really be focused on the quarterback and offensive linemen. I can’t let it get to me.”
Already this week, Williams has told teammates that they have no idea how loud Death Valley will be. He told quarterback Chris Turner to speak up during the snap count.
“It’s down south, so it’s a great experience,” defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre said. “The fans are fired up since we beat them there last time. I have not been to Virginia Tech yet, but West Virginia is No. 1 for me. Clemson right there behind it.”
Where does everyone rank the atmosphere at Clemson? And where is the best place to go after the game in Clemson or in Greenville? I’m looking for some decent places.
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