Ten reasons Clemson will beat Furman up 85 and back this Saturday. It seems almost cruel to go into this much detail for this matchup, so Paladin fans can stop reading after number 2. Actually, if you’re a Furman fan, you really should just stop reading now.
1. Clemson is Clemson. Clemson is undefeated all-time against FCS opponents (and unlike most other schools, we're basically required by law to schedule one each year), one of just 42 schools that can make this claim.
2. Furman is Furman. They have a great football team, for an FCS school. Refer to reason #1.
3. Sammy Watkins. He’s back and better than ever and makes his season debut against the Paladins at home. Watkins is an NFL pro bowler stuck temporarily in the life of a 19 year old kid. Furman gets to be the closest spectators and will really just serve as cannon fodder. Speaking of cannons…
4. Tajh Boyd has finally turned the corner. He’s slimmed down on bad weight, studied up on The Chad’s system, and taken huge strides toward becoming the best Clemson QB ever. He showed us in the Auburn game that he will take the check down when nothing is open deep and he will take off if the pocket collapses. The 2011 vintage of Boyd would have been forcing balls into coverage and taking sacks. Boyd showed us against Ball State that he can be deadly accurate going 19 of 23 for 3 TDs.
5. The offensive line. This was the biggest question for Clemson heading into 2012. Replacing three starters on the offensive line is no small task, but the new unit has already shown that they can keep our offense firing on all cylinders. It will be a surprise if Boyd gets so much as a grass stain on Saturday.
6. Clemson does not need to punt. If Furman ever stops the Tigers on third down, Spencer Benton can put up three points from midfield. He hit an ACC record 61 yarder last week and is one of only 5 NCAA kickers to ever strike from 60+. His kick would have been the fifth longest in the NFL record books as well.
7. Andre Ellington is finally healthy again. We saw the last two weeks what he’s capable of and Watkins’ return only intensifies the threat AE poses. If you’re one of the few remaining doubters, just look at his highlights from the Auburn game – a Heisman moment if ever there was one.
8. Clemson’s defense has looked like the weakest link thus far, but they will improve as the season continues. Bear in mind that this is Brent Venables’s first year, and the defense is still learning his system. Clemson needed a few teams to practice against on the defensive front—they got some good practice in last week against a top 50 offense in Ball State and should improve their performance against Furman this week.
9. Despite the fact that 2013, not 2012, is being lauded as Clemson’s breakout year, Clemson fans are starting to get the feeling that this year could be something special too. That makes a dangerous home environment even more electrifying. Also note that Dabo is 21-4 in Death Valley.
10. Statistics from Clemson’s performance this season (specifically the offense) make repeated references to the 1980 and 1981 seasons. Even though I’m not old enough to remember those years personally, this Clemson fan was trained up right and knows well the stories of the Tigers’ glory days. I’ll take as many statistics linking 2012 to 1981 as sportswriters want to connect. We may not win a national title this year, but Furman certainly won’t be the reason why.