Clemson Football will take the field in Death Valley for the final time this season today. We wait all spring and summer for football season and when we get it, it seems like it blows past us.
The Tigers are bowl-eligible, but now face two of the teams Tiger Nation likes to beat the most. Next week they will travel to Columbia to face archrival South Carolina.
Outside of Georgia, North Carolina is likely one of the teams Tiger fans dislike the most. Much of that goes back years to John Swofford’s days in Chapel Hill. Much of it is simply because the Tar Heels have often had teams across many sports that have been a thorn in Clemson’s side at times over the years.
I mentioned previously that I didn’t expect much from North Carolina this season. I assumed they would finish in the top half of the ACC because Drake Maye is very good. I wasn’t sure about the team around Maye. I thought other programs were more rounded.
I was wrong about those other programs, for various reasons. I was also wrong about the Tar Heels as a team, especially the offense.
I thought I was wrong about the defense too, but they seem to be regressing over the second half of the season. I lean towards this as the reason that Clemson will have the overall advantage today.
When strength plays strength, I think both the North Carolina offense and the Clemson defense will make plays. The Tigers won’t always be able to stop Maye. Maye won’t always be able to overcome the Clemson defense.
Clemson Football will have an advantage if the offense can keep Drake Maye off the field
On the other side of the ball, Clemson simply needs to avoid reverting to their old ways. I am never confident that Klubnik won’t have a bad day.
What I am confident about is that the adjustments on offense, specifically on the offensive line, have made a big difference. This team can put the running backs in positions to make plays. They didn’t do that through the first eight games.
Klubnik didn’t set the world on fire against Notre Dame, but it wasn’t necessary. If the running backs can keep drives alive and put Maye on the sideline, he won’t have many great opportunities.
If the Tigers turn the ball over, well, then all bets are off. Short fields for Maye won’t bode well for Clemson.
I like Clemson’s chances because I think we have the advantage when North Carolina’s defense is on the field. That sounds a bit odd to say, but I think it is fair.