With win over Georgia, Clemson earns respect across the country.


Let’s face it Clemson’s history gave them a lot of doubters. Brilliant performances followed up inexplicable and in some in cases humiliating losses. Things started to change last year when the Tigers only losses were to top 10 ten teams Florida State and South Carolina. The season ended with a confidence building win over SEC Heavyweight LSU. Coming into this year’s opener with Georgia, the Tigers still had to validate that win though.

If Clemson doesn’t beat Georgia the naysayers would have been everywhere. Great win over LSU, but Clemson isn’t ready for to consistent big boy football.

Well all that changed in a slug fest gut check win in at Death Valley. The Tigers beat their second consecutive top 10 SEC team. That’s happened exactly zero times in history. I was at this game, and was there to see to Clemson beat LSU. The one thing that struck me most was how Clemson’s offensive line was able to hold their own against SEC defensive fronts.

Even the much maligned defense had several moments in both games where they made critical plays. The Tigers have gotten better at the line of scrimmage and that is why they are now able to play with and beat the best teams from the mighty SEC. Having the unflappable Tajh Boyd at quarterback doesn’t hurt either. Funny to think less than a year ago his leadership ability was questioned, and now he’s one of college football’s best quarterbacks.

I had 3 keys to the game and Clemson achieved them all.  Run for 125+? Check Clemson ran for 197. Limit UGA to 2 or fewer 40+ yard players? Check UGA had one 1 75 yard run by Todd Gurly. Win the Special Teams battle? Check Sammy Watkins muffed a punt, but UGA mis-handled a sure chip shot FG. The Tiger also nailed their FG attempt and managed to to have several kickoffs go through the endzone.

Oddly enough there are still a few folks living in 2006, that say they are waiting for a “Clemson” moment. Well guess what it can happen. I’m pretty sure Alabama lost as a double digit favorite on their home field to Texas A&M and lost to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. Yes the Aggies proved to be pretty good, but Alabama shouldn’t be losing to anyone at home. Florida State lost to an inferior NC State team on the road last year. People love Stanford and I do to, but they lost at unranked Washington last season.

When you take out SEC powers in back to back games you’ve earned respect that makes the rest of the country take notice.

Here is a sampling of articles on this from around the internet. There is an ACC angle to this. The win obviously helps the ACC, and I’ll touch on that in a later piece. Clemson had the marquee win, but there were more subtle signs the ACC as a football conference is getting better.

CBSSportsline – Clemson proves it’s for real. 

CBSSportsline – Boyd’s Breakout.

Sporting News – Clemson in contender territory.

From the Sporting News article.

Welcome to the college football elite, gentlemen. If they don’t want you in their exclusive club, force your way in by bloodying the bully’s nose in front of everyone.

That’s how you change the perception of your football program.

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