It did not take long for a member of the media to question Clemson’s schedule when the Tigers hosted their national championship media day on Monday.
Isaiah Simmons was one question deep into his 20-minute interview when a reporter asked him about the bad wrap the Atlantic Coast Conference gets especially when compared to other conferences like the SEC or the Big Ten.
“We get it every year,” the Butkus Award winner said. “Everybody always says we don’t play anybody but when it comes to games against the SEC, Big Ten … I am pretty sure, in our last ten, we lost one and that was to Alabama two years ago.”
Simmons is right. Since the start of the 2016 season, the Tigers are 10-1 against SEC competition. By the way, they are 7-0 against teams named Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Ohio State since the 2014 Orange Bowl.
“At the end of the day that really does not matter to our team,” Simmons said. “At the end of the day, we just focus on how we play against ourselves and not losing to Clemson, as opposed to our opponent. We don’t want to play down to our opponent or play up to our opponent.
“So, that is going to float around and continue to float around until we prove ourselves otherwise, but I don’t think that really affects us at all.”
Clemson (14-0) should not have to prove itself at all considering recent history. However, the ACC’s Tigers will have to do it at least one more time when they face SEC Champion LSU in the College Football Playoff National Championship next Monday night in New Orleans.
LSU is currently sitting as a 5.5-point favorite, despite the fact Clemson is the defending national champion, is on a 29-game winning streak and just knocked off Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Simmons does not understand why people go on and on about Clemson’s schedule and how they played no one. Then when they look at LSU’s and Ohio State’s schedules, who have blown out their competition, too. However, their schedules are praised because they supposedly played better competition.
“They say we don’t play anyone, but these teams are undefeated too, so do they not play anyone else, either? We played undefeated Ohio State and now we are going to play undefeated LSU. So, if they are beating all these teams really bad, just like we beat our conference bad, I don’t know if that necessarily means we don’t play anyone,” Simmons said. “Do they not play anyone, either? So, I see a lot of similarities, so you can take it how you want it.”
Simmons has a point and the numbers back up his theory. Ohio State won its 13 games by an average margin of 36.1 points, including a 37-point margin against Big Ten competition. Clemson beat ACC foes by an averaged of 36.7 points this year and overall beat teams by 35 points.
Though LSU has it a little bit tougher, it was not by much. Similar to the run Alabama had last year, LSU ran through the SEC, winning seven of their nine games by at least two touchdowns and six by three or more touchdowns.
LSU’s average margin over victory is 27.1 points overall and 22.2 against SEC teams.
So, if everyone wants to keep harping on Clemson’s schedule, Simmons and the Tigers are okay with it. They’ll just go out there play their game and what happens, happens.
“I am just trying to accomplish our team goals. I am not trying to prove any media people wrong,” Simmons said. “I’m kind of used to be counted out in my career. It was not like I was highly recruited or anything. A lot of big schools kind of turned me down. A lot of stuff like that does not really motivate me to prove people wrong.”
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