Six straight losses in Atlanta, the shame of the Orange Bowl blowout, the Sammy Watkins suspension, the issues with the young Clemson offensive line, Clemson’s weird, historical struggles in even-numbered years…
There were a lot of reasons not to expect us to win, but 320 rushing yards later all that pessimism is replaced with pie in the sky optimism. A young offensive line that was supposed to be pushed around by a strong Auburn D-line stood tall–or more aptly helped Tajh Boyd stand tall. Boyd looked incredibly nimble after cutting some weight over the offseason, Andre Ellington looked phenomenal in racking up a career-high 231 rushing yards, and DeAndre Hopkins set a Clemson receptions record with 13.
Many thought Clemson’s receivers would step up without Watkins, and they did. Few thought Clemson’s O-line would be as solid as it was. Although I picked Auburn to win, and I am glad to be wrong, I don’t want to get carried away here. As Clemson fans, a healthy shield of pessimism is needed to keep us sane. Let’s remember that Auburn is the 7th best team in the SEC (Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina are stronger).
That said, the Tigers should be favored in nine of the remaining 11 games on their schedule, and the matchup with FSU in Tallahassee will be the biggest game in the ACC this season. I’m not quite ready to change my prediction of 9-3, but the fear of a flimsy O-line making this team completely mediocre has been assuaged.
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