Today has the potential to be one of the most memorable games in Clemson history. Gameday and Sportcenter on campus. Primetime ABC TV slot. A top ten Notre Dame team. A chance to jump up into the top ten ourselves. The winner is instantly and legitimately in the playoff discussion. It's such a big game, even a freakin' hurricane decided to come to town for it. This is big.
And, because of the bigness of the stage we're on, I feel even worse about this game. Before the season began, I predicted this game to be a loss. After watching us underwhelm for three weeks, I see no reason to change my mind. Our defense has been better than I expected. Unfortunately, our offense appears to be less than the sum of its parts. I desperately hope I'm wrong about this game. I fear that ND is better prepared for the type of sloppy mudfest we're in for. However, without the threat of a deep passing game, maybe their run game isn't really that dangerous. With Kearse and Boulware plugging the gaps, maybe they won't be able to move the ball much at all. Maybe our o-line is as good as the advanced stats say. Gallman seems to be a man possessed this year. Maybe Davidson is finally benched for the man-beast known as Tye Dye. Maybe, just maybe, I can talk myself into being hopeful by kickoff. In the end, could two weeks worth of nagging dread serve to amplify my euphoria when the Tigers overcome Notre Dame and Mother Nature for the win? I don't know... To find out, tune in to ABC at 8:00pm EST.
#6 Notre Dame at #12 Clemson
Kickoff at 8:00pm EST
Here are a few other games that I will be checking in on as I pace nervously around my house all day:
USCjr at Missouri
Kickoff at 12:00pm EST
TV: SEC Network. The FCC won't even let them broadcast this garbage on cable.
These two teams have a lot in common: they've both had some of their program's best years in the recent past, they're both located in a city named Columbia, and they've both already lost to Kentucky this season.. IN FOOTBALL! Ha! Since my second favorite team every Saturday is whoever is playing the Shamecocks, I'll keep an eye on the game as long as Mizzou stands a chance. Unfortunately, I doubt they'll put up much of a fight. USuCk 27 - MO Tigers 13
#23 West Virginia at #15 Oklahoma
Kickoff at 12:00pm EST
TV: Fox Sports 1
West Virginia is starting to turn heads. They've topped 40 points in each of their games this season and have played some decent defense to go along with their offensive production. Oklahoma has been putting up decent numbers as well, though their defense hasn't been quite as strong. Is it time for West Virginia to come back down to earth? Or will Oklahoma's lack of defense finally cost them? I honestly don't have a good read on either of these teams. OU 41 - WVU 38
#13 Alabama at #8 Georgia
Kickoff at 3:30pm EST
With the talent each of these teams have in the backfield, and some of the lingering questions under center, it wouldn't surprise me if there's not a single forward pass all game. It's hard to believe that a school with Alabama's resources and recent success can't attract a decent quarterback. Bama's defense didn't look great against Ole Miss, but they were also put in a lot of bad situations by their offense and special teams. On the other side, Nick Chubb continues to dominate. He has carried the ball 71 times this year and is still averaging 8.4ypc. Also, don't you think UVA fans are ready to hang themselves by their cashmere shawls, watching Greyson Lambert have a good year for the Dawgs. I wouldn't want to play either of these teams, but I think Georgia might be the more complete package. UGA 34 - Bama 27
#3 Ole Miss at #25 Florida
Kickoff at 7:00pm EST
It's been fun having Swag Kelly troll the STS comment sections. He seems to be feeling validated and vindicated after their big win over Bama. Maybe I'm taking crazy pills, but I was not impressed. As I said earlier, Bama gift wrapped a few TDs to Ole Miss with turnovers, and that tipped pass touchdown was 2013 Auburn-esque luck. I'm not buying Ole Miss at #3, but I doubt Florida can expose them. Florida needed a good bit of luck to beat UT last week and continues to struggle. They'll be back out of the top 25 after this week, and I'll be surprised is they finish the season ranked. Ole Miss 45 - Florida 20
The Miss St versus Texas A&M game is intriguing as well, but there's no way I will allow the TV to be turned from ABC that close to Clemon's kickoff. I started this little commentary with my level-headed account of why I predicted Clemson to lose this game preseason and why I am sticking to that prediction. However, the closer kickoff gets, the more I feel my heart pounding, and the easier it is to envision Gallman slicing through the line, pummeling poor defensive backs, and splashing his way into the end zone. The Notre Dame players shouldn't have rattled the cage we keep Jayron Kearse in. They will regret it. Something tells me our entire defense is going to rise to the challenge. It'll be an ugly, swampy, hard-fought game, but I bet Watson does something to ensure we win. This should be one to tell the grandkids about. Spot the dang ball.