As we hit the halfway point of the season, things are beginning to take shape at both a national and conference level. The coots are as real as it gets, Florida State still has a ways to go, and I really want to know why I flew half way across the country to watch Georgia Tech play Clemson. I hate watching the triple option, especially against our defense. Anyway, here is how Clemson's opponents did and it is a good reminder that things could always be worse.
Auburn Tigers (1-4) (0-3):
I think we can all but officially close the book on the Gene Chizik era of Auburn football. It is one thing to have a bad season of football, but to lose to an Arkansas team that makes Keystone Cops look organized is a new level of ineptitude. Auburn managed a single touchdown in their 24-7 loss at home, and my guess is the Auburn boosters are trying to see if they can spring Harvey Updyke in exchange for him poisoning Chizik’s food.
Ball State Cardinals (3-3) (1-2);
The Cardinals have now suffered back-to-back conference losses to derail a season that started so well. Victories over Indiana and South Florida seemed to indicate this team could have a successful year, but following a 35-23 loss to Northern Illinois questions will have to be asked by the coaching staff. Next up is a trip through Michigan as they play Western and then Central Michigan over the next two weeks.
Furman Paladins (2-4) (1-2):
The Paladins suffered a close loss to unbeaten Wofford 20-17. Furman had an early hold on the game, but Wofford scored 13 points in the 3rd quarter before both teams buckled down to just play defense in the 4th quarter. Wofford seems likely to run away with the Southern conference while Furman is pretty close to just playing for consolation prizes to be named later.
Florida State Seminoles #12 (5-1) (2-1) vs. NC State Wolfpack (4-2) (1-1):
At what point does the concept of "pullin a Clemson" become "pullin an ACC"? FSU really showcased the ACC with their strong start followed by a letdown in the second half. Fair credit to NC State though, the Wolfpack made some adjustments at half time and FSU could never quite recover. This one is going to sting for Seminole fans since the team could not get score in the second half. Some folks are already calling for Jimbo’s head. The loss eliminates the Seminoles from NC contention, and nowClemson fans have to be rooting for 1 (probably 2) more ACC losses.
Boston College Eagles (1-4) (0-2):
When you lose to Army 34-31 you aren’t going to get much time in this column. At this point can we swap BC for Navy? At least the midshipmen try to play football.
Virginia Tech Hokies (3-3) (1-1):
The next trap game for Clemson, the Hokies showed that they are just straight up awful. UNC pretty much scored at will in a 48-34 victory. My guess is Clemson is going to have to put up a similar point total if they want the victory. Anyone who thinks this won’t be a trap game in 2 weeks is kidding themselves. Frank and company is going to treat this as a revenge game for the 2 beat downs we put on the Hokies last year, and I’m very worried about this game. Hopefully Dabo gets everyone healed up over the bye week.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-3) (1-3) vs. Maryland Terripans (3-2) (1-2):
Wake continued to show a distinct lack of talent in their 19-14 loss to Maryland. I really hope this game wasn’t on tv because I’m betting Raycom wouldn’t have wanted it either. This win actually gives Maryland the lead in the ACC Atlantic, but hopefully that doesn’t last more than a week or 2. Of course it would be just like the ACC for the title game to be Maryland v. Duke. Maybe they could just play a basketball game to determine the winner of that one.
Duke Blue Devils (5-1) (2-0):
Easily the surprise of this season, the Blue Devils are now 1 win away from being bowl eligible. They absolutely stomped on a Virginia team that can officially begin looking towards next year even in a mediocre Coastal division. Duke is averaging 37.8 ppg and is 30th in the country in passing yards per game. I hope they don’t realize Meeks has a disability known as "lack of hands". I’d say the Duke game is the most challenging game for Clemson on their ACC schedule the rest of the way. They do have a difficult run in with UNC, FSU, Clemson, GT, and Miami their remaining ACC games. It is conceivable they could lose out, but I think they can nab a win or 2 in there.
As much as it hurts to admit, it is time to admit that USC is as close to the real deal as any team in the country. Despite Georgia’s issues, the stomping USC dealt to them is still impressive. It seems like this is a little like 2007 where almost every team in the country has a big flaw or 2. The only exception is probably Alabama, and maybe Oregon though I’m not sold on them. Their offense isn’t great, but the defense is only giving up 10.5 ppg and that is impressive regardless of how talented the opposition is. This weekend will go along way towards seeing just how legit USC is. If they go into LSU at night at get a W, they have earned the right to be considered the second-best if not the best team in the SEC.