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A Clemson tradition: The history of Family Weekend in Death Valley

Courtesy of ACC Network

ACC Network archived TV footage of Clemson’s 1987 matchup with Georgia for that year’s Family Weekend. 

Clemson football will face Louisiana Tech for the first time in 16 years at Memorial Stadium on Saturday for Clemson’s annual Family Weekend game.
The Tigers are 3-0 in their series with Louisiana Tech, but the history made this weekend will not be the only history that is embedded in the specially hosted event that Clemson deems “Family Weekend.”
Presented by the Center of Student Leadership and Engagement, Family Weekend is an annual tradition that includes on-campus activities to help encourage families to visit their students at Clemson.
This year’s celebration begins on Friday, Sept. 16, and continues through Sunday, Sept. 18. Over 3,000 individuals are currently registered for ticketed events, breaking previous years’ records. 
Students, alumni, fans and family of Clemson’s past and present can look forward to events this weekend, including a private brunch, tailgating and a dedicated football game.
With the Louisiana Tech matchup occurring on Saturday night, here are some of the best Family Weekend football games that Clemson has hosted. 
Sept. 16, 2000, vs. Wake Forest
Over 20 years ago, the Tigers dominated the Demon Deacons in a 55-7 win to improve their record to 3-0. 
The afternoon game welcomed a 27-point first half, led by then head coach Tommy Bowden. Bowden would go on to lead the Tigers to the Gator Bowl that year with a 9-3 season record. 
Quarterback Woodrow Dantzler ran in two touchdowns, showcasing the Tigers’ versatility on the field on that Family Day celebration. Offensively, Clemson poured in 30 first downs compared to the Demon Deacons’ eight. 
At the time, Clemson was ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll, compared to No.5, which is where Clemson stands as of this week.
The win against Wake was also the program’s 1000th game played. 
Oct. 2, 1999, vs. North Carolina
The season prior to the Wake Forest matchup in 2000, Dantzler would lead the Tigers past the Tarheels in a 31-20 victory.
Dantzler was substituted in for Clemson’s current offensive coordinator, Brendan Streeter, the team’s starting quarterback in 1999, and helped lead the Tigers to victory.
Dantzler rushed for 82 yards in the game and completed a 49-yard touchdown pass, helping make up for the 17-10 deficit that Clemson faced going into the third quarter. 
This was Bowden’s first year as head coach of the Tigers, with the team finishing with a 6-6 season record for 1999.
Clemson went to the Peach Bowl that season, whereas UNC did not make a bowl game appearance due to its 3-8 record.
Clemson is 38-19-1 in their series against UNC– which began in 1897.
Sept. 15, 2012, vs. Furman 
The Clemson/Furman series dates back to 1896, to Clemson’s first-ever football game.
The 30th straight win in the series was secured on Sept. 15, 2012, in a Family Weekend game.
Clemson gave families a game to remember, winning 41-7 with 498 total yards on offense that day.
Clemson still has yet to fall to Furman, as the Tigers’ most recent contest on Sept. 10, 2022, resulted in a 35-12 win last week.
Sept. 19, 1987, vs. Georgia
A rainy 1980s September day did not deter the Tigers, as they would come back in the fourth quarter to beat the Georgia Bulldogs, one of their biggest rivals.
During this late ’80s Family Weekend, No. 8 Clemson hosted No. 18 Georgia in Death Valley with a packed stadium.
Following a Georgia touchdown to make the score 20-16 in the latter half of the fourth quarter, the Tigers later responded with a two-point safety.
The following drive set Clemson kicker David Treadwell at the 35-yard line, where he would kick the game-winning field goal. These Clemson efforts all occurred within the final minute of the game.
In the previous year’s matchup against Georgia in 1986, Treadwell also managed to score a last-second game-winning field goal. 
This remarkable comeback can be viewed on the ACC Network Youtube. 
Today, Clemson families are welcomed back to experience another game in honor of Family Weekend, where the tradition of celebrating football alongside loved ones is always memorable at Death Valley. 

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