Clemson Football will kick off shortly against Florida State in Death Valley. Though it is only Week 4, so much has happened already that has changed the viewpoints of many Clemson fans, myself included.
I have given fans who didn’t give Duke’s football team respect before the season started a hard time, and deservedly so. The Blue Devils were a good team last year and they returned most of that squad this season.
I still didn’t think that Clemson would lose that game. I wasn’t wrong about Duke. My expectations for Clemson were wrong.
I didn’t expect the Tigers offense to be firing on all cylinders. I expected some three-and-outs and some turnovers.
I didn’t expect catastrophic mistakes like turnovers inside the five-yard line, two blocked field goals, and turning the ball over on downs because of mental errors. That is what happened, and now Clemson enters this game behind most of the contenders in the chase to qualify for the ACC Championship Game.
I can’t say I feel much differently about this game now than I did in the preseason. It can still go either way. Florida State, so far, is what I expected: very good but not elite. Maybe LSU isn’t quite as good as we expected, but I don’t think FSU would win by the margin they did if the Seminoles weren’t very good. I also don’t think they only win by two at Boston College if they were elite.
What has changed is my confidence in the Clemson offense. I think they can move the ball on the Seminole defense. I just haven’t seen enough mistake-free play from Clemson to believe the Tigers won’t do something that will allow FSU to create some separation on the scoreboard.
My perception of Clemson Football has changed slightly, but I still expect a competitive game with Florida State
In the preseason, I favored the Tigers, mostly because of home-field advantage. This week, I picked Florida State to win and cover 27-20.
Clemson can still win this game, but they will need to show they have improved notably since the opening game of the season on offense.
The biggest difference isn’t my perception of the game itself but in the aftermath. When I thought about this game in the preseason, if Florida State won it wouldn’t preclude Clemson from still qualifying for the ACCCG.
Now that Clemson has lost a conference game already, a loss to FSU would practically eliminate the Tigers from contention. The odds of qualifying for the ACCCG with two losses are very small.
I think the competition is roughly the same as I would have expected in the preseason. It will be a competitive game. It’s simply the consequences of a loss that could be significantly different from what I expected a couple months ago.
There will also be many who will want to treat the outcome of this game – regardless of who wins – as a referendum on the transfer portal, which I will push back against, but that’s a discussion for another day.