While watching Clemson turn Boston College’s football program into a corpse on Friday night, I had this thought: Is this the way Florida State used to feel?
Back when I was a kid, the Seminoles beat Clemson year after year after year. Nothing ever changed, except the date on the calendar and the alternating venues. Florida State was better. They had better quarterbacks. They had better wide receivers. They had better tailbacks. They had better defensive talent. They obliterated Clemson at the lines of scrimmage.
Many years, it seemed Florida State toyed with Clemson. It felt like they had to try really hard to make that game matter in the grand scheme of things. Make up mini-games, root for walk-ons to score, go for a shutout—it takes some creativity to stay mentally focused in games that end up 56-10.
The Tigers physically dominated the hapless and helpless Eagles in every conceivable way. They doubled the home team up in total yardage. They were able to move the ball on the ground and through the air. They utilized big plays to eat up chunks of yardage, caring little about time of possession.
It was a dominating victory in every sense, and it seemed boring to those of us watching at home. Never has anything been clearer than the talent disparity between the two sides, and once Clemson showed it wasn’t messing around early in Friday’s game, the outcome was obvious.
Still, a quick glance at the box score reveals an interesting aspect to Friday’s bludgeoning: It doesn’t look like a blowout win.
Deshaun Watson completed a pedestrian 14 out of 24 passes, although he did throw four touchdowns. No running back had more than nine carries, and even Wayne Gallman’s 109-yard output seemed to lack pizzazz. Nine additional players carried the ball, none for more than Tavien Feaster’s 56 yards.
Deon Cain led Clemson in receiving with 68 yards, but he only had three catches. Artavis Scott had the most catches on the team with four. Seven different receivers caught a pass for the Tigers, and no one had more than four targets.
The wide variety of playmakers utilized by Clemson’s offensive braintrust rubbed some of the shine off of the 46-point victory. At the very least, it didn’t feel like an impressive display of dominance on both sides of the football.
Believe it or not, this is a good thing for the Tigers. It’s a good thing for Dabo Swinney’s program. The boring snoozefest in Chestnut Hill showcased just how dominant Clemson football has become. The win was expected, and the final margin almost didn’t even matter.
The final box score brings the point home. It sounds crazy, but having a final stat sheet that feels pretty ho-hum and features a ton of players from the second and third units might be the next step for this program. Being able to dominate conference opponents without relying on outrageous performances from stars is a unique skill that only a handful of teams in the country possess.
More boring games may be coming down the road for the Tigers. Fans, it’s time to invent ways to create interest for four entire quarters—maybe as soon as this week.