Clemson Is Going To Win The Orange Bowl, Maybe

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Clemson Is Absolutely, Positively Going To Win The 2015 Orange Bowl … Maybe

I still don’t think Clemson will beat Notre Dame.

I still don’t think Clemson will get by Florida State. I still think Clemson will probably be upset by NC State, Miami and South Carolina, and it’s absolutely going to misfire in a loss to North Carolina in the ACC championship game.

I’m not sure why I don’t think Clemson is the be-all-end-all team everyone else does. I’m not sure why I’m fighting this so much considering it was the unwavering CFP No. 1 team in the process.

I’m not sure what my problem is.

It’s a sound team. It’s a fun team. It doesn’t offend my sensibilities like Oregon did going into last year’s CFP, and there’s more than enough talent and athleticism to be worthy of all the attention and respect. So maybe I’m the 12th man on the deal team, last to know. Maybe I’m the one looking around the table wondering who the sucker is.

Maybe it’s the special teams. The punting and return games aren’t that great – but of course that’s not it. PK Greg Huegel is one of the best in the country.

Maybe it’s the ACC schedule. Let’s cut through the BS – Louisville was just okay, Georgia Tech and Boston College were awful, Miami was a hot mess in the middle of the year, Wake Forest was Wake Forest, North Carolina beat nobody, Syracuse was so good it canned its head coach, and Florida State was pretty good, but not the Florida State of the last few years.

Maybe it’s because the CFP committee way, way, way overloved the non-conference schedule. Beating Appalachian State was nice, and getting by Notre Dame was great, but rivalry schmivalry – there were too many issues against a miserable South Carolina.

Maybe it’s because I actually watched Clemson play after the win over Florida State. There’s no way anyone with a working brain could watch Clemson and Alabama play their respective games over the final month of the season and think Clemson was the better team.

Maybe because I feel like the world – primarily the CFP types – watched the Notre Dame game, formed an opinion, and that was that. Michigan State might have lost to Nebraska, but beating Ohio State on the road with a backup quarterback blows away anything Clemson did.

Oklahoma might have lost to Texas, but beating Baylor, Tennessee and Oklahoma State on the road, and TCU at home, trumps the overall body of Clemson’s work.

Alabama might have turned the ball over a gajillion times in the loss to Ole Miss, but as it turned out, that was a New Year’s Six-worthy Rebel team. Bama beating Wisconsin, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida all by double-digits forms a stronger resume than Clemson’s.

Maybe it’s because Dabo Swinney is a just a little too much … Dabo Swinney. All the dude has done is go 74-26 overall with five straight double-digit win seasons. All he has cranked up are three outstanding bowl victories in a row with wins over LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma. But in terms of legendary head coaches in the 2015 CFP, there’s Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Yeoman Johnson – which one isn’t coming back from the planet?

Maybe it’s because I know in my heart of college football hearts that no way, no how, no chance does Clemson get through any of the other Power Five conferences unscathed.

Maybe it’s because the only two tough games against Notre Dame and Florida State were at home, while the other three CFP teams cut their teeth on the road.

Maybe it’s because it’s, well, Clemson.

Or, maybe, I’m totally and completely whiffing.

No matter what the schedule, what the brand name, or how many close calls, Clemson is still the only unbeaten team left standing. This is now a juggernaut of a program under Swinney – to call him by his first name almost undermines how good he is – with an offense that’s as balanced and explosive as any in college football, along with a defense that restocked the shelves in a hurry to finish seventh in the nation.

Clemson is supposedly flaky? The term Clemsoning still exists? Under Swinney, the last time Clemson lost to a team that didn’t finish a season with double-digit wins was on November 19th, 2011 in a 37-13 loss to NC State, and that Tiger team still went on to win the ACC championship.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma is the flightiest of the flighty big-time programs, getting manhandled this year by an awful Texas team, not even showing up in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl embarrassment against Clemson, and getting destroyed by Texas A&M in the 2013 Cotton – but being good enough to beat Alabama in the 2014 Sugar. Clemson has had a Florida State problem – Oklahoma has had an Oklahoma problem.

Deshaun Watson is a phenomenal talent – BTW, Clemson fans who keep dogging me on my preseason call that other ACC QBs were better, remember, it was all based on not believing Watson would stay in one piece – and the defense that lost Vic Beasley, Stephone Anthony, Grady Jarrett, and a slew of other key parts found a lot more NFL talent where that came from.

Maybe, this really is the best team in college football.

So maybe I’m wrong to assume Oklahoma is better and will be off to Glendale.

Maybe – with all of those close calls late in the year with the CFP No. 1 bull’s-eye squarely on its back – Clemson probably deserves more respect for its resiliency than blame for so many tight battles.

Maybe the team has just the right mix of talent, experience, coaching, and mindset, with the No One Believes In Us attitude totally and completely legit.

Or, maybe, like 2014 Florida State, the ACC’s unbeaten champion is about to get exposed.

I’m still picking Oklahoma in a wild and crazy shootout.


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