While sitting in Great Clips today, I read an article about FSU and the rest of the ACC becoming woefully irrelevant after Oklahoma beat Florida State in Doak Campbell. Of course, the writer didn’t have the benefit of watching the next five weeks of football before writing the article, as I did before reading it, but it still was mighty satisfying.
Clemson, now 8-0 and 5th in the country according to the BCS, is quite relevant. In fact, they have a realistic shot to not just play for a conference title (would be their first since 1991), but also a National Title (would be their first since 1981). Sitting behind LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, and Boise State, Clemson doesn’t quite control their own destiny. Common knowledge would indicate that a 13-0 Clemson team would leapfrog a 12-0 (ACC has a conference title game, MWC does not) Boise State team whose difficulty of schedule just doesn’t compare (Boise St played UGA, Clemson has Auburn, FSU, VT, GT, USC, ACCCG). Alabama and LSU have to face off so one of the two has to lose and Oklahoma State still has to play Kansas St., Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
Even if all those events occur and a spot opens up for Clemson in New Orleans, they still have to earn it. Three hurdles major hurdles are in front of Clemson.
First, Clemson has to visit Georgia Tech and won’t have a healthy Andre Ellington, as their star RB is struggling with an ankle injury. Clemson had lost four straight to GT including the 2009 ACC Championship Game before beating then in Death Valley last season. Going into Atlanta, a place that has given the Tigers trouble, undefeated and unable to take a loss is scary. I’m very worried about this weekend, but I’ll be there tomorrow, hopefully not to have my heart broken yet again by the pesky Yellow Jackets (I was there two years ago when this video was taken, and it still crushes me).
Clemson will take a bye week after the Georgia Tech game and then play Wake Forest, their competitor in the ACC Atlantic. The game is in Clemson so I don’t see this a huge threat given our history against Wake in Death Valley, but it’s a must win for our national title hopes, and just to qualify for the ACCCG. After Wake, Clemson will visit NC State, and then have to play their final regular season game in the urban decay of Columbia, SC (just teasing). Without Marcus Lattimore, the challenge isn’t as great. Coming off back-to-back losses against USC, they obviously can’t be overlooked. I don’t see Clemson laying an egg before the conference title game as they did in ’09. In fact, I can imagine them taking out two years of frustration on an inferior South Carolina football team.
Finally, if they’re able to win all those games and finish the regular season undefeated (with the toughest schedule for an ACC Atlantic team) they still have to win the conference in Charlotte and given they’ll have beaten GT in this scenario, it will likely be against VT. I don’t think beating them again will come as easy as it did the first time, but here’s to hope (and being favored).
One game at a time… Although it sure is fun to think ahead!
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