Long before Trevor Lawrence was even a glean in his parents’ eyes, before C.J. Spiller was born, before Brian Dawkins was drafted by the Eagles, before “The Fridge” became a household name among football fans, before the Tigers were winning their first national championship under a guy not named Dabo Swinney.
No, this guy was hooked on the Orange & White and the Paw and the alternate purple way back when All-American wide receiver Dwight Clark was hauling in passes from a guy not named Joe Montana.
So, what in the names of Steve Fuller and Danny Ford is going on here?
After losing – badly – at unranked, three-loss Notre Dame last Saturday night, Clemson finds itself on the cusp of being out of the College Football Playoff for a second straight season after earning a spot in six of the first seven CFPs.
Is it’s a run among the nation’s elite over? Are the Tigers in complete freefall?
Well, considering they’re 8-1 and slotted 10th in the latest CFP rankings, you’d have to hedge “probably not.”
But they may be. Especially compared to other longtime college football top dog Alabama as every expert and their “yes, man” sidekick getting ready to pull the rip cord.
Put it this way: The Crimson Tide has lost twice this season, in epic battles, against ranked teams, and longtime SEC rivals, on the final play in each game … by a total of four points combined.
The Tigers? They got smoked 35-14 by an Irish squad that just found its smash-mouth identity the week before in blowing out Syracuse, which, frankly, had Clemson dead to rites last month before RBs Will Shipley and Phil Mafah rescued the Tigers from the noose from which D.J. Uiagalelei once again had them hanging.
The casket being wheeled out for ’Bama is laughable. This isn’t just a team that won the 2020 national title in frighteningly impressive fashion, it also smashed even 2021 national champ Georgia in last season’s championship game (very convenient how most “forget” that when it gets in the way of the narrative). Kudos to the Dawgs for returning the favor a few weeks later.
And, again, it has lost twice by a grand total of four points. To two teams ranked in the top 7 by the CFP committee: Tennessee (5) and Louisiana State (7). Both times on the road.
Some pundits are actually floating out there that Tide HC Nick Saban may be losing his touch. You know, now being 71 and all.
Maybe. Maybe not. But if he were Swinney’s shoes, he’d certainly be smart enough to grasp that his best player – by far – on offense is Shipley, not D.J. or even his ballyhooed backup, Cade Klubnik, and would devise a game plan that featured the standout sophomore instead of focusing on propping up whoever lines up behind center.
OH, THE IRONY
For all those moaning for some team to take Clemson’s place in the CFP’s top 4, following last week’s rankings, and, frankly, bitching about the Tigers’ place in the national pecking order for, jeez, about 7-8 years now, enjoy Texas Christian’s soon-to-be short-lived run as a contender. Man, if you think Clemson wins all too often by the hair of its chinny chin chin, check out the Horned Frogs’ resume. No, really, check it out instead of just nodding your head in agreement when any talking-head clown on TV professes how TCU has the better resume than this team, that team, and especially Clemson.
Go ahead and count on reality turning ugly Saturday night when the Frogs visit No. 18 Texas.
It’s so easy to fall for No. 6 Oregon, with its speed and style and superb response to getting boat-raced by Georgia in the season opener for both. After losing by 46 in that one, the Ducks have won in alternating thrilling and dominating fashion – with QB Bo Nix conducting the proceedings.
The Auburn transfer has been brilliant, earning his spot – albeit an outside one – in the Heisman hype.
Thing is, he’s been brilliant before. A lot. But he always imploded at some point, in some game, usually a crucial one. And that’s likely going to happen again – because it always had in his previous four seasons as a college starter.
SET THE ALARM
The country seems to be sleeping on …
- No. 15 North Carolina, now 8-1, and its brilliant redshirt freshman QB Drake Maye, who has accounted for 35 TDs already.
- The powder keg brewing in LA with No. 8 USC and No. 12 UCLA looking the parts of Pac-12, and possibly CFP, contenders set to meet in a regular-season finale.
- The likelihood that both Notre Dame and LSU benefited from HC Brian Kelly leaving the former for the latter.
- Coastal Carolina, the darling of pollsters during the height of the pandemic, being – again – a damn good football team. Chants are 8-1 … but just lost QB Grayson McCall for the rest of the season with a foot injury.
- The fact that not only does the SEC (6) have more teams in the CFP rankings than the Big Ten (4), but so does the Pac-12 (5) … and the forever ridiculed ACC (4) has just as many.