Since the first time Trevor Lawrence threw an interception against Georgia Tech in the season opener, pundits have asked, “What is wrong with Clemson?”
The answer is and always has been nothing is wrong with the Tigers.
Clemson (9-0, 6-0 ACC) has been one of the most dominant teams in college football, winning by an average margin of 32.6 points per game. Seven of the Tigers’ nine wins have been by 31 or more points and they beat Texas A&M by 14 points.
However, once the preseason favorite to win the national championship and the No. 1 team in the country, Clemson now finds itself ranked No. 5 in the first College Football Playoff Rankings, which was released on Tuesday.
Granted, they struggled at North Carolina back in Week 5, surviving with a one-point victory, but they found a way to win the game even when they weren’t playing at their best.
Since then, Clemson has won its last four games by an average score of 52-11, while scoring 45 or more points in every game, a Clemson record. In fact, the Tigers have scored 41 or more points seven times this season and on four occasions scored at least 52 points.
Despite those kinds of numbers, the narrative continues to be about Clemson’s near loss at UNC and their weak schedule, due to the fact the rest of the ACC has struggled at times this season. The CFP Committee punished the defending national champions for both with their No. 5 ranking.
“I don’t know what else we could do on the field,” head coach Dabo Swinney said after Wednesday’s practice. “We have the best offensive production we have ever had, ever, ever. So, I don’t know what else we could do.”
Clemson is averaging 545.4 yards and 44.2 points per game. Their yards per game average ranks third nationally, while their points rank No. 6.
The Tigers have been just as dominant on defense. For the first time since 1979, they have held their first nine opponents under 300 yards. They are just the third team in all of college football since 2000 to accomplish such a feat.
UNC’s 20 points in Week 5 is the most points anyone has scored on Clemson this season.
“We never had a defense, in fact college football has only had two in 20 years, that have held nine of our opponents to under 300 yards,” Swinney said. “If it is about what is on the field, I don’t know what else we can do. We are playing pretty well. We just have to keep playing well.”
The Tigers rank fourth nationally in total defense, allowing just 247.2 yards per game and are giving up just 11.7 points per game, which ranks sixth nationally.
“We have had four games in a row that I think we have played pretty clean. But that is a sign of maturity. If you are playing your best ball in September and October, you are … that is not the recipe. You want to build depth. You want to build confidence. You want to stay healthy. You certainly want to dominate your opponents and we have done that every game but one.
“You want to position yourself for things in post-season and we have done all of those things, so are in a good spot. We have to finish. I think we are in a very similar position team wise to where we were last year. That team finished. Is this team going to finish and stay focused on the little things and have that burning desire to finish the right way?”
Clemson will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday to play NC State. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
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