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Sep
02
2012

The Clemson Tigers answer questions with win over Auburn.

Let me go all Clemson fan on you for a minute. I have this Clemson shirt with a Danny Ford signature. My wife and I gave it to my Father in Law but it was too big for him. I ended up with the shirt and now the shirt has gone 9-0 in Clemson events I’ve attended. This includes wins last year over Auburn, FSU, and Virginia Tech in the ACC Title game.

There was also an upset win over NC State in basketball. I wore it tonight and Clemson beat Auburn. So there you go… Story of the game. Ok but still 9-0 is 9-0 and I’m starting to get superstitious.

Anyways beating Auburn was so huge for Clemson on so many levels. First Clemson’s young inexperienced offensive was facing a big challenge with Auburn’s solid defensive front. They came through beautifully. The Tigers rushed for a whopping 320 yards, and played with a level physicality that hasn’t been seen often in recent years by ACC teams.

Last season Clemson raced past Auburn, this year it was a grind it out it game. If I had to give a game ball out, it goes to that offensive line. The defense wasn’t spectacular, but they made enough plays to keep Auburn honest. Following a Clemson turnover, the defense held Auburn to a FG in the 4th quarter. That was key. Brent Venables the new defensive coordinator came up big, as the defensive improvement since the Orange Bowl was evident.

Andre Ellington ran like a man possessed. QB Tajh Boyd overcame some early butterflies and De’Andre Hopkins said Sammy Watkins isn’t the only great WR at Clemson. That Clemson was able to beat Auburn without Sammy Watkins is a credit Dabo Swinney. It was a risky move to suspend Watkins for an earlier arrest, one that I felt was the right one that Swinney made. The win erases the ugly Orange Bowl loss and provides instant credibility to Clemson. Auburn is only 2 years removed from a national title and was coming off an 8 win season. Clemson wants to be truly nationally elite program, and wins like this are how you start getting to that point. Also no late season swoons… Frankly a close loss would have done nothing…

In the bigger scope, Clemson provides the ACC a much needed shot in the arm. Clemson should be one of the ACC’s flagship football schools. It can be any ACC school as long as you win, but the Tigers have the ability to recruit at a level only a couple of other ACC schools can. Their win barring some wild set events in the next 2 weeks, will setup a marquee possibly top 10 matchup with Florida State in Tallahassee. These are exactly the kind of high profile inter conference matchups the ACC needs to have.

The conference doesn’t need to be great from top to bottom, not even the SEC is that, but it does need 3-4 schools to separate from the pack and create these type games. I’m already hearing the game at Florida State will be at 8 PM and an ESPN Gameday matchup. Quietly Florida State and Clemson have gone 5-3 against the SEC the last two years. Ok they haven’t played the Alabamas and LSUs, but there are still wins over Florida, Auburn, and South Carolina in there.

Great win for Clemson. I almost had an ulcer but it was worth it!

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