|Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 8:10 AM- -|
Several times over the last few years I have had a good feeling about games in which some may have thought Clemson was outmanned. The reason was the "chip on the shoulder" the Tigers showcased.
It can't happen every week. It can't happen every time you are an underdog. Sometimes you don't have to be an underdog to have one. But Clemson has displayed that chip on several occasions.
The best examples have been in the last two bowl games. Clemson players sat around for a month having to hear about how great LSU and Ohio State were.
In the Orange Bowl last year the Tigers racked up 576 yards, including 378 through the air. Clemson put up 40 points on the seventh-ranked Buckeyes and didn't even play its best game. In fact, after watching the game I thought if the two teams met again Clemson would win again. The Tigers were simply the better team despite being a two-point underdog.
In the LSU game Clemson dominated to the tune of 100 plays to ninth-ranked LSU's 48. Clemson had 32 first downs to LSU's nine. Clemson was a six-point underdog but had 445 yards to LSU's 219. Clemson outplayed LSU and had the Bayou Bengals on the edge of exhaustion.
Besides the chip on their shoulder and being the underdog, the other common denominator was that Clemson physically beat both teams up. LSU and Ohio State trainers got a lot of TV time in both games.
Another example of the chip came in the ACC title game against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game in 2011. The Tigers were six point underdogs to the fifth-ranked Hokies. The week was spent having the Tigers hear about Virginia Tech's dominance in the ACC instead of Clemson's dominance earlier in the year in Blacksburg. Clemson routed the Hokies that night 38-10.
There have been other examples of that chip. The wins in three straight weeks over Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech in 2011, plus the opening win over Georgia last season.
The chip has not showed up against South Carolina in recent years. Instead the Tigers have played tight and not played well. Now they need to find that edge in the rivalry again.
The numbers in other games have been impressive. Clemson is one of the few teams in the country that have a winning record as an underdog the last three years. Clemson is 5-4 as an underdog.
The Tigers are 7-6 against ranked teams the last three years, including a 6-3 record against teams ranked in the top 11.
This year the Tigers open up in Athens against a ranked SEC team on the road. I am sure during the month of August the staff and team will have to hear more about the SEC and the Bulldogs. I am hopeful the chip on the shoulder makes the short trip to Athens.
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