Following Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh in 2016, the Tigers were sort of in shell shock. At the time, it marked their first regular season loss in almost two years. They lost at home, ending a 21-game home winning streak.
It was something they were not used to. More importantly, it made them mad. The next week, Clemson took out its frustrations on Wake Forest as they pummeled the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem. In the next game, they hammered rival South Carolina, 56-7, before beating Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
Even Ohio State could not handle the Tigers’ anger as they embarrassed the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl with a 31-0 victory. They followed that up by beating previously undefeated Alabama in the national championship game, winning the program’s first national championship in 35 years.
So here they are again. The Tigers, now No. 7 in the latest Associated Press Poll, are once again in shell shock after being humbled by Syracuse a week ago in the Carrier Dome, snapping their 11-game winning streak, as well as their 12-game winning streak in road games.
“Obviously, you never want to experience this,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “Really, any great team or season or great moment, there is always some adversity at some point during that process. For us, we want this to be the one time that it happens and that we learn from it so we can look back and push ourselves forward like last year’s team did after Pitt.”
If Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) does not learn from its mistakes against Syracuse than it could see all of its goals quickly disappear. Once the Tigers get back from this week’s open date, they face a tough stretch where they host Georgia Tech (Oct. 28), play at No. 16 NC State (Nov. 4) and host ACC rival Florida State (Nov. 11).
“We have some other good teams on our schedule so that is the message that we as coaches are really trying to challenge these guys,” Scott said. “The message is not going to be that we lost the game. The message is going to be how do you respond? We know how last year’s team responded. How is the 2017 team going to respond?
“That is a big part of what we are going to be focusing on here these next two weeks getting ready for Georgia Tech.”
However, unlike last year, the Tigers will have to wait another week to see how they respond. Clemson is 7-2 under head coach Dabo Swinney following a bye week and 3-1 when coming off a loss prior to the open date.
Overall, Clemson is 22-6 following a loss under Swinney and has won its last 10.