Sometimes it’s easy to pick the big games on the Clemson football schedule well before the season starts, but there are also times a season has to play out before you can truly determine which games were the biggest.
In several recent seasons, Florida State seemed to be a big game in the preseason, only to see the Seminoles bumble and stumble their way to sub-mediocrity and those games turn into duds.
In some ways, the coach speak of “every week is our biggest game” is true, at least in college football, where any loss can be a season wrecker.
That’s what sets college football apart from other sports. No one cares if you lose a basketball game in November or a baseball game in February, but if you lose a football game in September your season could be done for all intents and purposes, at least for teams with playoff aspirations.
With that in mind, here’s my take on the biggest games for Clemson football in 2023 at the time of this writing.
No. 5 – Notre Dame
If you’re like me, the number of times Clemson football has embarrassed you on the field has been few in the last 9 seasons, but last November 8th in South Bend was one of them.
Notre Dame dismantled the Tigers by a score of 35-14 and it wasn’t that close.
Included were a blocked punt and an interception return, both of which ended in touchdowns by the Irish.
Mind you, that was a 3-loss Notre Dame team that had Ls hung on them by the likes of Marshall and Stanford at home, not to mention squeaking by Cal and BYU.
In short, it was a brutal night to be a Clemson fan.
Clemson is going to lose from time to time, but rarely do they look like they don’t belong on the same field with their opponent and/or don’t care.
Despite the Irish’s full member voting status on ACC business, this is not an ACC game and the Irish will likely be saddled with 2 or 3 losses by the time the teams match up on the first Saturday in November, so some may think it’s not a big game.
The Irish are a national brand, if not a national power, and the game will draw eyes and attention.
In a lot of ways college football is a beauty pageant and if Clemson is in a position to make the playoff when October ends, this is a game the Tigers will need.
As they say, voters “Remember November”.
Pundits won’t care when you beat run-of-the-mill ACC teams, but they will care when you beat run-of-the-mill Notre Dame.