TigerNet Talk: Are We Elite?

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A few weeks ago someone in our chat room during the live show said, "We are the elite." I always enjoy the banter in the chat room, but this post stood out to me. The idea of being elite on the college football landscape is a goal every Tiger fan has at the beginning of the season, but being elite isn't easy. Elite teams don't lose to teams they should beat. Elite teams find a way to squeak out tough wins.

This Monday, Clemson has a chance to take on a team that has established itself as one of the elite teams in college football. Louisiana State has been in the national title picture for close to a decade. They are a powerhouse program from the powerhouse division in the nation's powerhouse conference. A win over a team of their status would be a great boost for Clemson going forward.

But a win against the Bayou Bengals will not come easy. Since 2009 they have only lost a handful of games. The losses they've had haven't come against chopped liver either. A look at LSU's recent losses tells the tale of just how good they have been.

#1 Florida
#3 Alabama (National Champion)
Ole Miss
#11 Penn State

#5 Auburn (National Champion)
#12 Arkansas

#2 Alabama (National Champion)

#10 Florida
#1 Alabama (playing for the National Championship)

For Clemson to walk out of Atlanta with a victory would be a significant accomplishment. I always hope to see a team improve throughout the season and throughout a coach's tenure. Losses by Clemson to a #4 ranked FSU and a #12 ranked South Carolina fit the mold of what Louisiana State has been able to accomplish in recent years. However, this is game will be the toughest test for Clemson.

In order for Clemson to win against a team like LSU will take a tremendous effort. Clemson must not abandon the run too early and must find ways to create conflicts for the LSU defense. The Tigers did a good job of getting the ball to Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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in the running game against FSU, but we didn't see it against South Carolina. I think Clemson must get Watkins the ball multiple ways to pull off the win.

Clemson's offensive line must also give Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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the time necessary to get the ball down field. I like LSU's chances if they can get Boyd and the wide receivers out of sync using their front seven to pressure the Tigers.

Defensively, Clemson will need to stop the run. The Bayou Bengals have a stable of large backs and will run every one of them out there. It's a pound you to the ground mentality and one that can break a teams spirit by force. Clemson's secondary hasn't been good this year, but the first line of defense will be containing the Louisiana State running attack.

So are we elite? No, not yet. I think that we are building this team the right way and I think that Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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has proven that he can win at Clemson. I know it's difficult to put the four straight losses to South Carolina in the rear-view, but a win against a team like LSU would give some excitement to the fan base. It would also be a shot of confidence for the team heading into the off-season.

I think we have seen a team in Clemson headed in the right direction. If Clemson were a stock, I'd buy. But we aren't elite and that's the biggest difference in the two teams on the field in Atlanta.

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