After Saturday's win vs. Texas A&M, let's bury the Clemson vs. SEC schedule talk, OK?
JNCO jeans, bowl cut haircuts, turtlenecks, Parkay floors and oversized shoulder pads.
They were fads that looking back, we wonder how they ever became popular. At some point, most of us looked at those things and collectively decided “yeah, we’re over that.”
After watching the double-digit loss that Texas A&M suffered on Saturday, let’s add “Clemson would struggle with an SEC schedule” to that group of outdated trends.
Looking back, anybody who believed in that should have at least some embarrassment. And to be clear, we’re talking about what would happen to Clemson if it had to face an SEC schedule for the entire season like say, Alabama or Georgia.
Clemson beat its 4th SEC team in the past 365 days. The Tigers outscored those teams by an average of 16.3 points.
That was the Tigers’ 17th consecutive win, the 15th in that stretch by double digits. Of course, one of those single-digit victories was against the same A&M team that was humbled by Dabo Swinney on Saturday. That’s why it was a huge opportunity for the SEC. I mean, can you imagine if the SEC’s 6th-best team (based on the Associated Press Top 25) went into Clemson and played another wire-to-wire game?
That wasn’t the case at all. Instead, Brent Venables made the right adjustments after Kellen Mond lit up Clemson for 430 yards last year. It seemed like the Tigers were playing with 13 defenders and blitzing their extra 2 untouched every time Mond dropped back.
Clemson won the battle at the line of scrimmage against another SEC team because, dare I say, it has a national championship-caliber roster. Stunning concept, I know.
Here’s the thing.
The following things can all be true about Clemson:
- A) A down ACC improves the path to the Playoff
- B) It is the best team in the country
- C) It would be just fine with an SEC schedule
- D) All the above
It’s always “all the above.”
You can think the ACC is down without assuming that Clemson only routed Alabama because it didn’t have to grind through an SEC schedule. My opinion? A 44-16 final wasn’t the product of what team either conference played in.
And I realize some people would argue that the depth of the SEC would make Clemson trip up. Well, at least more likely to trip up.
Uh, yeah. That’s true. What’s also true is that in 2 of the past 4 years, Alabama tripped up in conference play … and Clemson beat Alabama 2 of the past 3 times. Since the start of 2016, Clemson is 9-1 against SEC teams. That includes multiple wins against SEC West contenders Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M.
What else does Clemson need to do? It already had multiple SEC teams on the nonconference schedule each of the past 4 seasons.
Do the Tigers need to go face LSU next week to show it can truly handle the SEC gauntlet? I just don’t get it.
I suppose the same people who are holding onto that dated take on Clemson against an SEC schedule also believe “Clemson-ing” is still a thing. Somebody needs to wake that person up and tell them that it’s not 2013 anymore. Shoot, that person was probably stunned to see Jimbo Fisher in A&M maroon instead of Florida State garnet on Saturday.
Yet still, I’m sure that person still will argue that Saturday didn’t prove anything. They’ll probably also claim that because it was a 2-touchdown victory, it wasn’t a blowout … even though Clemson led 24-3 until A&M scored in the final 10 seconds for its first touchdown of the day.
Clemson nearly clinched 2nd-half shutouts against A&M and Alabama. That further shows why the Tigers not being able to physically survive an SEC schedule is a silly notion.
But I suppose the person still doubting Clemson will tune into next week’s game against Syracuse and complain about the Tigers’ strength of schedule. They’ll also ignore the fact that the Tigers play 10 Power 5 opponents this year. Well, until their inevitable ACC Championship/Playoff berth.
You see, I’m with the times for assuming that’s in store for Clemson. The program that just completed one of the best seasons of the modern era of the sport looks plenty capable of doing it again with Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Justyn Ross. Win or lose come Playoff time, it won’t say anything about whether Clemson could survive an SEC schedule.
It absolutely could. Accept the belief that a team with 2 national titles in the last 3 years would dominate the SEC, too, and that it isn’t a product of its conference.
Ditch the JNCO jeans and get with the times.