Tigers control their own destiny after another wild weekend
|Sunday, October 22, 2017, 9:01 AM- -|
Another wild weekend of college football is in the books, and all of the teams ahead of Clemson in the polls won their games. That includes Alabama (the Tide haven’t played a team with any kind of pulse since Deondre Francois was hurt in the opener), Penn St., TCU, and Wisconsin.
Three Top 15 teams managed to survive – Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. won late and Miami held off a determined Syracuse team in front of what appeared to be several fans in their home stadium
The Syracuse loss was key for Clemson – after beating the Tigers nine days ago in what passes for a home stadium, the Orange controlled their own destiny within the division. Granted, no one expected the Orange to win out with a final four games that includes games at Florida St. and Louisville and home contests against Boston College and Wake Forest.
But…if they had beaten Miami they would have been in great shape in the ACC Atlantic. Before the Miami game, their only ACC loss was at N.C. State. Syracuse put up quite a battle against the Hurricanes, but those final four games are tough. If they go 2-2 they are bowl eligible.
Clemson now controls its own destiny with three conference games to play. Clemson hosts Georgia Tech Saturday at 8 p.m., travels to N.C. State the following week and ends the conference slate with a home game against Florida St. Win all three and the Tigers are back in the ACC Championship Game.
Like Clemson, N.C. State was off this weekend but they have a tough road contest at Notre Dame next week. That one won’t be easy but doesn’t count towards the ACC standings.
As for Florida St….yikes. The Seminoles are 2-4 for the first time since 1976 (Bobby Bowden’s first year in Tallahassee) and 0-3 at home for the first time since 1974. Head coach Jimbo Fisher exchanged barbs with a fan after the game, and it’s evident something is wrong in that program.
They won the title in 2013, won several games they could have lost in 2014 but were then obliterated by Oregon in the College Football Playoff. Let’s be honest, something has been “off” since that game, whether it’s been the defense or shaky quarterback play or a porous offensive line. Granted, losing Francois hurt, but it shouldn’t hurt to the tune of 2-4 and 0-3.
Clemson’s next opponent is Georgia Tech, and the Jackets have two losses this season but both were by one point – at Miami week before last and against Tennessee in the season opener. They’re decent, not great, but will provide a challenge for the Clemson defense. And while Paul Johnson’s offense always run through the quarterback, it’s even moreso this season. Stop Taquon Marshall and you stop the Jackets.
In watching their Saturday game against Wake Forest, I was shocked to see the Demon Deacons go ultra-conservative late. Especially on a late fourth down with the game on the line. The Deacons all but sent the Jacket defense a memo stating they were going to run left. It was, predictably, stopped short.
That abysmal play call capped off a weekend where the playcallers in college football looked a lot like their NFL counterparts. The NFL has a reputation for being boring and predictable – on 3rd-and-14 everybody in the stadium knows a draw play is on the way. But college football is supposed to be different. It wasn’t Saturday and in many ways hasn’t been all season as coordinators either retreat into a shell or simply go off tackle in short yardage.
I hate the prevent defense – how many times have you seen a defense play off receivers and then give up a game-winning drive – and I hate the prevent offense. The prevent offense has been in vogue this season as teams simply stop attacking the defense.
That’s why it was refreshing to see Penn State against Michigan. The Nittany Lions had the Wolverines on the ropes, and instead of going into the prevent offense they kept attacking. And delivered the true knockout punch. Instead of holding on for a closer-than-they-wanted win, they stepped on Michigan’s throat and stomped. Final score 42-13.
That’s my kind of football.