The rhetoric right now is Clemson has not played anyone and it will not throughout the course of the year. This argument is true. However, is it Clemson’s fault?
Like it has done every year since 2008, Clemson has played an out of conference Power 5 opponent early in the season and then has its annual rivalry game with South Carolina at the end of the year.
Since 2008, Clemson has played Alabama and Auburn on a neutral site, TCU, a home-and-home series with Auburn twice, a home-and-home series with Georgia, Notre Dame and a home-and-home with Texas A&M. Name me another major Power 5 team who has done that for 12 straight years? You will not find too many.
By the way, Clemson’s record in those 12 games is 8-4, including five straight wins. The Tigers are 6-5 against the Gamecocks during that span, including five straight victories as well. So, going back to the end of the 2014 season, Clemson has won 10 straight games against non-conference Power 5 opponents in the regular season.
Clemson should be praised for playing those kinds of out of conference games, but you don’t hear or read any of that when critics take their shots at Clemson’s schedule.
Yet, here we are, the perception is out there. Clemson has not played anyone.
Is it Clemson’s fault that Texas A&M, who was once ranked No. 11 in the country, has started the year 3-3? The Tigers did their part, they beat the Aggies. Actually, they dominated them. You can’t hold that against them.
Is it Clemson’s fault the rest of the ACC is down? It shouldn’t be.
As Dabo Swinney said on his call-in show Monday night, Clemson’s resumé should not be an issue as long as the Tigers are winning their games. He is right. Clemson has earned that right to be given the benefit of the doubt, as Alabama has been given the benefit of the doubt in years when it has lost a game.
The Tigers have won two of the last three national championships and were an onside kick away from three out of four. They have proved themselves in the College Football Playoff by blowing out Oklahoma, Ohio State and Notre Dame. They have proven themselves by beating Alabama twice in the national championship, including a 28-point win in last year’s title game.
So, they should be given the benefit of the doubt, as long as they keep winning.
Then there is this notion Clemson has played bad and has struggled all year to win games. Okay, I would say the Tigers have not played their best all the time, but I would not call it struggling.
Yes, they struggled at North Carolina and nearly lost the game. But tell me another game where they struggled?
They led Texas A&M by 21 points until there was six seconds to go in the game. They won the other four games against Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Charlotte and Florida State by an average margin of 36.5 points, with the closest being a 31-point win against FSU.
Now we hear Alabama’s 47-28 win at Texas A&M is more impressive than Clemson’s 24-10 win over the Aggies at Death Valley. How? Alabama led 34-20 going into the fourth quarter. It was controlling the game, but it was not dominating it the way Clemson did the Aggies. Clemson led the Aggies by 21 points, 24-3, heading into the fourth quarter.
Both were good wins to me, neither was better than the other one. It is a ridiculous statement to try and compare them.
I understand the talking heads have to do their job and they want to create as much drama as possible. But there is no drama at Clemson. The Tigers are doing their part. They’re winning their games, and they are doing it convincingly.
It is not Clemson’s fault Texas A&M and the ACC stink.
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