Commentary: The Competition


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CLEMSON, SC --
"We're just going to play them one game at a time. Right now we're going
to worry about Virginia. They're a fundamentally sound team and yadda, yadda,
yadda…"

If that's not one big coachism, I'm not sure I've ever heard one. Personally,
I don't believe a single coachism I've ever heard and I don't expect you do
either. Call me crazy, but I also don't look at games one at a time. I like
to look at the entire schedule and see what I think the team's record will be
at season's end, what bowl they'll likely be playing in, who their opponent
might be and whether that bowl game will have any kind of national title implications
whatsoever. The Competition's landscape changes with each week and that's what
this article is about.

I call it The Competition because I'm taking a look at each team on the Tigers'
remaining 2000 slate. I size up what they did in their most recent games, which
teams they are scheduled to play next and what the oddsmakers think about the
potential outcomes of those games. Then I compare that data with similar information
regarding Clemson's most recent and immediately upcoming games to draw comparisons.
I hope you enjoy.

September 23 @Virginia 3:30pm

Clemson Outlook: Come week four, Tommy Bowden's troops will face their
first of three tough road tests this season. Many experts are saying this one
could go either way (and considering the Cavs may be looking for revenge after
being dismantled in Death Valley last year, I can understand why), but I don't
see Virginia being as improved as the Tigers should prove to be. I see Tommy
B picking up his third ACC road victory here.



September 30 @Duke 12:00


Clemson Outlook: I know, "There are no such things as gimmees in
college football…that's why we play each game blah blah blah." Unless
an imbalanced Durhamite bombs our busses, we roll out of town with a big, blue
smear on the soles on our feet. As my grandpa used to say, "Clemson'll
stomp a mudhole in their @$$."

October 7 NC State TBA

Clemson Outlook: This is a revenge setup for us, considering this is
the only game from last season everyone feels as though we should have won.
I'm sure two people who want this one most badly are named Bowden and Herring.
Woe be to the Pack, no matter how much their new coaching staff cost them. Clemson
wins.

October 14 Maryland TBA

Clemson Outlook: Last season, Woody Dantzler and Lamont Jordan put on
an offensive clinic for the ticket holders in Byrd Stadium. Jordan carried the
ball 26 times for 177 yards and 4 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Woody set a Clemson
record with 435 total yards, running for 183 and passing for another 252. I
anticipate Coach Herring will have his 'D' focused on preventing a repeat performance
by Jordan. Not to mention the rest of Tommy's boys will want to win big on Homecoming,
where the Tigers are 25-2-2 over the last 29 years.

October 21 @UNC TBA

Clemson Outlook: Last year's Tarheel defense didn't allow a point in
the final 10 quarters of the '99 season…and they return all but one starter
from that unit. That's not what scares me most (especially since Wake and Duke
were two of their opponents in those final three games). Mike O'Cain is. Since
Carl Torbush made the good decision of hiring the former Wolfpack head coach
(also former Clemson QB and 1976 team MVP) as the Heels' offensive coordinator,
all I've been thinking about is how his offenses gave Tiger 'Ds' fits in years
past. If we slip up in trying to visit Tallahassee undefeated this year, this
is the game where I say it happens.

October 28 Georgia Tech TBA

Clemson Outlook: Players love bulletin board material. It can often get
them fired up to the point where they not only want to hit the opponents, but
wouldn't object to running over the opposition's mothers as well. I have to
believe coaches are the same way. "Everybody talks about Clemson, but I'm
not all that sold on Clemson yet," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said.
"Now everybody has a lot of film on them. Nobody really had that last year,
especially early on. I think the jury's still out." If you ask me, Coach
B has this game circled and will no doubt want to prove to Coach O'Leary that
last year's offensive feats were no sham. The verdict could be a blowout.

November 4 @FSU TBA

Clemson Outlook: I know, I know. Last year our Tigers had the Noles
on the ropes and gave Papa Bowden his biggest scare of the regular season. Unfortunately,
the closest Clemson has come in years past (since being the last team from outside
the state of Florida to win in Tallahassee the year following the infamous "Puntrooskie")
was a 17-0 loss during Tommy West's inaugural coaching season. Since then, the
Tigs have been outscored 156-3 on visits to Doak Campbell Stadium. I do believe
we'll play FSU tight for the better part of the game, but feel that Tommy's
Tigers will be down for the count before the final horn blows. Hopefully, the
true Tiger Faithful are accurate in this being our only loss of the season.

November 18 South Carolina TBA

Clemson Outlook: This is where we pick up victory number 9 for the season.
As much as I respect Coach Holtz for the task he has undertaken and believe
that he will win as many as 4-5 games for the Columbia faithful this season,
one of those wins will not come in Death Valley. This will be the 98th annual
Chicken Kickin' and Tommy Bowden no doubt realizes that in Coach Holtz's two
previous visits to the Valley (as Wolfpack head coach in the 70s) his teams
outscored the Tigers by a 74-13 margin. Bowden will also be looking to secure
a Gator Bowl bid, if my prognostications are accurate. As usual with The State
Championship, throw the record books out the window, but Clemson gets the 'W'
in this one.

January 1, 2001 Toyota Gator Bowl 12:30pm(NBC)

The potential lineup for the Toyota Gator Bowl will be an ACC selection (traditionally
the 2nd place team, pending they don't go to a BCS bowl) vs the 2nd place team
from the Big East or Notre Dame. I don't foresee Notre Dame having a successful
season-in fact I see Bob Davie getting off the hot seat and into the unemployment
line. That leaves the Big East Runner-up. If the expert prognosticators (I'm
really not sure they exist) are accurate, the Miami Hurricanes will be atop
the Big East standings by season's end. The likely 2nd place team for the Big
East is #10 Virginia Tech. Last week, they stomped Akron 52-23. This Thursday
night, they will travel to Greenville, NC to face off against a sound East Carolina
Pirates team. Although the Hokies are favored by 5 ½ points, it wouldn't
surprise me to see an upset-something the Pirates are good at.

Clemson Outlook: This is where we land if the Tigers perform to their
potential. Even if we run the table going into Bowden Bowl II-as most Clemson
optimists expect-I see our strength (or weakness this year, especially compared
to last season's tough slate) of schedule holding us out of the BCS lineup.
The best part of that news is we'll be upgrading from the wonderful GeorgiaDome
facilities our Peach Bowl selection has brought us in recent years. The bad
news, we'll likely see Michael Vick standing on the opposite sideline.

That will put Clemson and VaTech on the same field for the third time in as
many seasons…and we all remember how the previous two turned out (most
of us probably remember the initial one most vividly, seeing as how we got whooped
in Death Valley for the first time many of us could remember). The Hokies will
not be as strong as they were last season, but this would be our toughest challenge
of the year aside from visiting Papa Bowden's place. I'm not counting on a win
here, but believe this could be a good matchup for us.

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