I get it. Clemson did not look good against Troy this past Saturday. There is a reason to be upset and I’ll give you there is a reason to be concerned if you want to be.
However, I still do not think you need to be.
Clemson did not look like the No. 2 in the country against Troy. Does that mean they are not, though?
It was one week. It was one game. Fortunately for Clemson it was playing Troy and not Louisville or Florida State.
Don’t tell me it was two weeks, though. The Auburn win was a good win. If Clemson had played as bad against Auburn like it did against Troy, then it would have lost to Auburn.
The Tigers may not have scored 50 or 60 points like you thought they would, but that doesn’t mean the Auburn game was not a good win. Auburn is an SEC team that is three seasons removed from playing for a national championship. It recruits top 10-talent. That’s a good win no matter how you slice it.
The good news for Clemson this past weekend is that the Tigers did not play Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville or Florida State. They played Troy and in the end they found a way to win the game.
It’s a game they can truly learn from … everybody can.
Dabo Swinney always says winning isn’t easy. He doesn’t care how or why he won a game just as long as he won it. It’s tough to win football games, even when you have to beat the Troys and S.C. States of the world.
Clemson took Troy for granted, but so did you.
Death Valley wasn’t even filled to capacity on Saturday. The announced crowd was 78,532. Why? Why wasn’t it a sellout? After the season they had last year, plus they were coming off a huge road-win to open the new season, plus the Deshaun Watson factor, I figured the stadium would be full.
So even the fans just assumed Clemson was going to roll over Troy. Like the team, the fans did not give full effort. You just assumed the Tigers would score 50 or 60 points and it would be over. So why go, right?
I’ll be honest I did too, as did every single one of my colleagues. We can all learn something from the Troy game. It’s hard to win and no matter how much talent one team has, you can’t just assume they are going to roll in and beat every team by 60 points. That just isn’t reality.
However, what it is reality is the fact the Tigers are 2-0. Despite not playing their best, they are 2-0 and right where they need to be from a record standpoint.
The Tigers slipped in the polls and deservedly so. But the polls don’t mean anything and here is why.
If they keep winning, then it means they will have beaten a Louisville team that possibly could be in the top five or the top 15 depending on what happens this weekend against FSU. If they keep winning, then it also means they would beaten Florida State, another top 5 or top-15 squad.
Win those two games and take care of business against everybody else and the Tigers are in the college football playoffs. It’s that simple.
And don’t worry. Clemson is going to be ready to play in both of those games. Don’t worry. Deshaun Watson will be Deshaun Watson. I still believe he is the best quarterback in the country and in those two games it will show.
So the lesson for all of us—the Tigers, the media and the fans—we can’t take winning for granted. That other team wants to win, too. Luckily, for Clemson it was a lesson it got to learn against Troy or I could be sitting here writing an entirely different column.