|Monday, July 1, 2013, 7:49 AM- -|
During the Bowden years Clemson often times "pulled a Clemson."
It was a national brand among the media and fans. Pulling a Clemson meant losing to a team that you had no business losing to.
Something has changed at Clemson over the past two seasons though. The Tigers are 12-0 against teams where they are double digit favorites.
Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile says his goal for his teams to play to a standard where that is the measure of his teams. He says he wants his teams to play to that high standard no matter who the opponent is that Saturday.
The Tigers' main division rival, Florida State, has not been able to do that in it's first three seasons under their coach Jimbo Fisher. In 2010, FSU was a ten point favorite against North Carolina at home but lost to the Tar Heels 37-35.
In 2011 the Seminoles were ten point favorites at Wake Forest but lost 35-30. Later that season they were 17-point favorites over Virginia at home but lost 14-13.
Last season FSU was a 16-point favorite at NC State but lost 17-16.
Fisher's teams have dropped four games over the past three years against inferior teams.
The past four seasons the winner of the Clemson-FSU game has gone on to win the Atlantic Division and this year that appears to be the likely scenario. The winner of the game means a game and a half lead in the division because the winner holds the head-to-head tie-breaker. It would be difficult for the loser to win the division but beating the teams you are supposed to beat is also part of the formula for winning the division.
This season FSU plays homes games in the league against Maryland, NC State, Miami and Syracuse and road conference games at Clemson, Boston College, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh.
Miami looks like a team that has potential but I doubt the other three teams can go to Tallahassee and win. Other than Clemson, its hard to find a game FSU can lose on the road against that schedule but they have dropped games like those in the past.
Clemson's home conference tilts come against FSU, Wake Forest, Boston College and Georgia Tech and road games against NC State, Syracuse, Maryland and Virginia.
You never know how teams can handle Georgia Tech's offense but I doubt Wake Forest or Boston College can come into Death Valley and beat Clemson. Road games are more difficult but I think all four teams on Clemson's road conference schedule look to be rebuilding.
With all of that said, upsets happen each week all across the country. So do injuries. Confidence comes and goes throughout a long football season with every team. Very few teams play to that standard each and every week.
There is already a lot of talk about Clemson and Georgia to open this season and obviously the South Carolina game will always be a topic of conversation in this state. But winning the division is still a huge goal. With it comes a berth in the conference title game and a potential Orange Bowl appearance.
Next year Louisville enters the ACC and the Atlantic Division will once again change. Next year there appears to be a power entering the league and it will no longer be a two-team race.
Until then, will the winner of the Clemson-FSU game win the division for the fifth season in a row or will the team that slips up against a double digit underdog decide the division?
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