Tigers' poll strategy is simple: Just win, baby

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON - Movin’ on up.

Clemson had moved up to No. 3 nationally in the latest Associated Press Poll released early Sunday afternoon, rising one spot after being ranked in the fourth spot last weekend.

The jump is Clemson’s highest placement in the poll since 1988, and in case you’re wondering, the Tigers spent one week in the No. 2 spot in 1984. Clemson is in rare air indeed right now.

Clemson jumped Ohio St., but only by the slimmest of margins. After the Tigers defeated Georgia in the season opener, Clemson trailed third-ranked Ohio St. by 26 points – 1,330 to 1,304. Ohio St. didn’t lose Saturday – they beat San Diego St. 42-7 – but saw quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Braxton Miller suffer a sprained knee.

On Sunday, Clemson edged the Buckeyes by a mere five points – 1,332 to 1,327. Those slim margins give credence to the theory that college coaches have to win, but win pretty.

Clemson has a chance to keep winning pretty over the next four games, starting with a Thursday night contest in 11 days against N.C. State at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack have a new head coach in Dave Doeren, but they have looked less-than-fantastic the first two weeks.

On Saturday, the Pack had to kick a field goal with 33 seconds remaining to beat Richmond, an FCS team that is ranked second in the latest CAA poll. The Wolfpack are also dealing with the loss of starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who went down with a broken foot in the season opener. He isn’t expected back for at least a month.

Next up is Syracuse, which is 0-2 under new head coach Scott Shafer and are getting shaky play from their quarterback.

Following that is a date with the ever-dangerous Wake Forest, which is 1-1 after a desultory loss at Boston College on Friday, and then comes the perhaps the most intriguing match of the season’s first half – Boston College.

The Eagles are 2-0 under new head coach Steve Addazio, with wins over Villanova and Wake Forest. I’ve watched parts of both of their games, and while I am not ready to say they are a threat to win the ACC Atlantic, they have looked better fundamentally than at any point last season, and they have an experienced quarterback in senior Chase Rettig.

That will end the first half of the season, and if Clemson can keep winning and Florida St. can keep winning, that sets up a brawl with the Seminoles on Oct. 19th, a game that will mark the beginning of the second half.

And, for what it’s worth, I’ve been hearing that could mark the second trip of ESPN’s College GameDay to the campus.

However, as we all know, fame and the polls are finicky and fleeting, and you have to keep winning football games, and there have been a bevy of upsets over the season’s first two weeks. Movin’ on up might hold steady for a while, but Alabama faces a dangerous test next week at Texas A&M. However, the Crimson Tide then won’t face any stern challenges until they host LSU on Nov. 9th.

Oregon hosts Tennessee next weekend, and has games against No. 19 Washington on October 12th, No. 16 UCLA on October 16th and No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 7th.

For Clemson, however, they have to heed the words of Al Davis, the former owner of the Oakland Raiders.

Just win, baby.

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