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Dec
29
2014

After crushing Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl, time to call Clemson a legitimate football power.

Clemson_Vic

Clemson put on a performance in the Russell Athletic Bowl that I didn’t think they were capable of. Winning wasn’t out of the question, winning 40-6 seemed like a virtual impossibility. Don’t tell that to the Clemson football team and coaching staff. Clemson had a complete performance. It was total domination.

Oklahoma came into the game 8-4, having only lost 1 game by more than 4 points. They were in just about everyone’s top 5 to start the season, were finally getting back QB Trevor Knight of Sugar Bowl fame when the Sooners routed Alabama. The Tigers were going to have to play backup QB Cole Stoudt, who was struggling with confidence issues and were predicted many football media to lose.

Heck even the Clemson fans I know didn’t give Clemson much of a chance. Maybe Stoudt could limit his mistakes, and the defense could contain Oklahoma and we’d have a 21-17 type game. Never could I have imagined a game like this where Clemson proved, without question,  it had the best defense in the country in 2014. Credit Cole Stoudt, who took weeks of grief from the media and fans, to play a legacy redeeming game where he threw for 319 yards and 3 TDs.

He won’t be remembered as the guy that let the Clemson program slip, but as the guy that went 6-2 and won the Russell Athletic Bowl.

I was wondering where a game like this left Clemson… and this tweet from Kirk Herbstriet sums it up.

Clemson isn’t a nice team, this is a legitimate national football power. They have 42 wins the last 4 years. In those four years there are the wins over Ohio State, Georgia, and LSU, but there are also wins over Oklahoma, Florida State, Auburn, and South Carolina. This year will be a 3rd straight top 15 finish. The Tigers have had player turnover, coaching turnover, and they keep winning and winning big.

Have they reached the mountain top? No right now the mountain top is Florida State, Alabama and maybe Oregon. Can you name any other schools that have the brand name wins Clemson does in the last 3-4 years. Ohio State? Clemson beat them. LSU? Beat them too… This is a football power. Look at their resume, I’m not finding many schools that can match Clemson’s in recent years.

Clemson is going to lose a ton off their elite defense, but they return just about all of their significant skill position players on an offense that didn’t touch the surface of its potential this year. If QB Deshaun Watson can stay healthy, there isn’t any reason to think that Clemson can’t be a national player again next year and a worthy challenger to Florida State in the ACC Atlantic.

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