With eyes on the biggest game of the season so far, here is a special Daylight Savings edition of the Five for Friday blog…
1. The opponent is different, but the recipe is the same. Wednesday’s blog outlined the disparity in perception and reality with Clemson’s running game. I know this is the classic “chicken or the egg” argument, but the Tigers are better when they run the ball more than it feels like they should.
Rod McDowell needs to tote the rock at least 20 times. If he does, Clemson should feel pretty good about its offensive output when the game ends. If not, it will be a miscalculation that keeps the game closer than it should be.
Either way, though, Clemson should have no trouble with Virginia here.
2. The Mike London situation is tricky. Imagine a schedule ranked as the toughest in the country by people who are better at math than me. Now imagine a team that has only six seniors—as opposed to 21 freshmen—on its depth chart.
It’s not exactly a recipe for success.
But Virginia hasn’t exactly taken advantage of its opportunities to pick up wins, either, as a guest on our radio show pointed out this morning. The Cavaliers allowed 48 points at home to a Ball State team that is 8-1 with a loss to North Texas. They lost at Pitt 14-3 after the Panthers gave up 55 points to Duke the previous week.
Speaking of the Blue Devils, Virginia blew a 22-point lead against them in a 35-22 loss in which Duke scored—you guessed it—the final 35 points of the game. Math is fun like that.
Last week, the Cavaliers forced four first-half turnovers against Georgia Tech. They converted those four takeaways into a whopping zero points. That’s right—ZERO points. The Yellow Jackets ended up winning 35-25.
Simply put, even with the youth on the roster, Virginia can’t get out of its own way. I am reminded of the 2011 Clemson team that won the ACC with more than 40 scholarship freshmen. It can be done with young players, and the fact it hasn’t for Virginia falls on the head coach.
3. The only reason Miami and Florida State is as big as it is: ESPN hype machine. Seriously, I couldn’t care less about this game because it’s as much of a mismatch as any “big” game could be.
We know how impressive this Florida State team is. Here’s a cool stat to consider: In four home games so far this season, the Seminoles have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 228-30. That’s an average margin of victory of 49.5 points per game, which is clinically insane.
“Well, of course they’re beating Bethune-Cookman and Nevada by that much,” you say. Let’s take non-conference games out of the equation. In two conference games at home, the combined score is 112-17—good for an average margin of victory of 47.5 points per game.
In other words, Florida State has been basically as dominant at home against conference opponents as it has against non-conference scrubs.
On the flip side, Miami has had to come back late against North Carolina and Wake Forest over the past two weeks. They have beaten the Tar Heels and Demon Deacons by a combined seven points. Those two teams have a combined record of 6-9 overall and 3-6 in ACC play.
Remember when Clemson beat Wake by 456 more points than Miami did? Now remember how they looked against Florida State?
This doesn’t bode well at all for Miami. Pretender status awaits on the other side.
4. The fact that the previous game is being discussed in such a lofty way underscores the obvious point that this slate of games is horrible. There aren’t even a handful of intriguing rivalries or matchups to hold our attention.
The next best game is probably Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, and we don’t really know how good either team truly is. Both have struggled with inexperience and inconsistency this season, and both have benefited from a very down Big 12 conference.
Michigan-Michigan State is another nice matchup, but I believe the Wolverines are a giant fraud. Meanwhile, the Spartans have turned a disastrous offense into a productive one and are one of my bets to keep on rising down the stretch of the season.
There’s always the Georgia-Florida game (or what’s left of it), which could easily be worse than last year’s meeting. In case you forgot, it was a colossal disaster turnover-fest in a driving rainstorm.
Other than that, good luck finding something to sink your teeth into.
5. Baseball is over, and I’m sad about it. Congratulations are due for the Boston Red Sox and a legitimate worst-to-first remodel that isn’t getting enough play. This team was putrid last year with bad chemistry and a hatred of their manager. Now everything is rosy again.
This was a fun MLB playoff season and a fun regular season overall. You Braves fans out there got to enjoy a playoff season despite a historically bad lineup as far as striking out was concerned. As a Reds fan, I got to enjoy back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in almost 40 years.
All’s well that ends well, and I think we can say that the best team won.
And the Cardinals lost, so that makes it better.