In this week’s Bless Your Heart, Clemson football makes the trip to Tallahassee for its toughest road test to date. Which means now everyone is going to have a hunch and make the Seminoles the “trendy pick.” This is nothing new for Clemson and is something we should expect for the rest of the year.
Man, how the tide has turned in this rivalry.
Just 10 years ago, as a senior in college with virtually no life experience, I witnessed Clemson play one of its best games of the 2012 season only to lose to Florida State 49-37. Some people had Clemson as a trendy pick, but they once again came up snake eyes when the Tigers made the trip to the vaunted Doak Campbell Stadium.
But here we are a whole decade later in 2022 and a lot has changed. Everything from who has won the last 6 meetings to how Florida State is now on the other side of the blue-chip roster ratio has shifted. 10 years ago, the Noles were firmly in command of that lead.
We’re now at the point where Florida State is the trendy pick. Yes, this iteration of Mike Norvell’s team is better than expected, especially on the offensive side of the ball. FSU’s balanced attack with 3 solid running backs, a few great receivers, and a quarterback whose confidence has exploded in 2022 have got Noles fans believing that Norvell might be the guy to turn things around. Every outlet is still playing the Week 1 blocked kick in the Superdome when Florida State instantly became media darlings once again in Nola.
But the last 2 weeks have brought out the warts on a team that was brimming with confidence just 3 short weeks ago.
Wake Forest, fresh off of giving Clemson literally all it could handle on defense, followed up its week 4 performance by going into Tallahassee the following Saturday and surgically dissecting a suspect Noles defense. Sam Hartman proved the previous week’s performance was not a fluke and turned a 5.5-point favorite FSU team into a 10-point home loser.
The week after, FSU made the trip to Raleigh to match up with a Wolfpack team that was fresh off a disappointing performance in their “game of the century” in Death Valley. They were ripe for an upset, and it seemed likely. The Noles jumped out to a 14-point lead, and NC State lost Devin Leary for the remainder of the game (and who knows for how long this season).
The Seminoles were back baby, but then something strange happened.
NC State was able to claw back and WIN the game, all without even attempting a pass. The FSU defense was hammered for the remainder of the game by a host of Wolfpack running backs and a simple QB draw that the Noles simply couldn’t stop.
Pair that with 2 weeks of woeful FSU kicking, and you get Jordan Travis throwing a final interception in the endzone to seal the fate for the Seminoles in Raliegh.
FSU is limping into this game, Clemson seems to have a newfound confidence in its entire team, and yet there are still several people willing to “follow their hunch” and make the trendy pick for the Noles.
Don’t believe me? The line for this game opened at Clemson -7.5; it’s now down to -3.5.
Clemson football is best when the doubters say the quiet part out loud and they’re talking plenty this week
People want to believe this Clemson team stinks.
And while I don’t want to diminish the Seminoles, because they could actually win this game, there is still a sense of non-belief in this Clemson team by the general public that I think quietly fuels them. There won’t be a ton of media publicly members picking against the Tigers this week. But I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that some of these talking heads are quietly telling each other in their text chains or with their drinking buddies that they’ve “got a hunch FSU wins in Tallahassee this week” and give in to the trendy pick.
The problem is that they say the silent part out loud. Too Loud. And the Tigers can hear you.