Since 2015, Clemson has started no worse than 6-0. Sitting at 0-1 feels terrible. It reminds me of the old baseball adage that a cold streak early in the season hurts perception far more than late in the year when players already have several hundred at bats and it doesn’t drag their stats down as much.
Fortunately, the Tigers have two games against cupcakes (yes, GT lost to NIU, they are a cupcake) the next two weeks. That should wash the bad taste out of our mouths and then we’ll see if the offense looks improved against NC State.
On Saturday against SC State, we won’t learn much, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the offensive line combinations that trot and and the running room they create for the backs. After failing to get separation from Georgia’s DBs, I’d like to see some wide open receivers too. It won’t mean much going against an FCS foe, but a lack of separation would be extremely worrying.
There are three other games I’ll keep a pulse on next weekend too:
Week 2 (Sep 11)
Pittsburgh is one of the more interesting teams in the Coastal Division. If they beat Tennessee they’ll very likely be 5-0 and ranked when they go to Lane Stadium to face the Hokies. The Hokies have Notre Dame and West Virginia before that contest so it is TBD if they can do the same. The Panthers have a realistic shot to be 6-0 when they face Clemson.
NC State has been getting a lot of love from Bud Elliott over on the Cover 3 Podcast (I strongly recommend subscribing to them and the Clemson Pawcast). They’re 2.5 point favorites in Starkville on Saturday. A win there and a win against Furman should get them ranked before they host Clemson in week 4.
Lastly, it’ll be interesting to see how BYU stacks up against a Pac-12 opponent. They were good last year but couldn’t schedule a normal Power 5 schedule due to cancelations from their opponents. With the news that they’ll likely join the Big 12, it would be nice to see them get a win for the sake of that flailing conference.
If you haven’t already heard, the Big 12 is close to inviting BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston. If they all join, it’ll put the conference at 14 teams and then 12 once Texas and Oklahoma leave. I hope that this can work in combination with a smaller playoff that gives automatic bids to give stability to the current conference structure with five “Power” conferences.
Instead of moving to a 12-team playoff with six automatic bids, a plan which now seems dead, imagine an 8-team playoff with 5 automatic bids. This would immediately give relevance to the Big 12 and Pac-12. Of course, any sort of expansion lessens the importance of the regular season. Just imagine how we’d feel if we were in line for an automatic bid with an ACC title. The loss to Georgia would matter only for purposes of seeding. Perhaps the first round could be played on-campus so seeding would matter more.
That’s all several years down the line. For now, this weekend offers a palate cleanser. Hopefully we see good run blocking and receivers running wide open in Death Valley. If Pittsburgh and NC State can secure wins, the Tigers could have two ranked matchups ahead of them.