Two weeks ago I looked ahead to Clemson’s 4 upcoming opponents. At the time they were UNC, La Tech, Wake, and Temple. It seemed clear (and still seems) that Clemson should win all these games by 20 points or more.
UNC – check
La Tech – check
Wake, Temple – TBD
Although I didn’t post it, I meant to update the margins after the victory at UNC. To be more specific, I’d say a 30 point margin against La Tech would be reasonable while 20 and 40 points against Wake Forest and Temple, respectively, seem like reasonable bets. The early line on the Clemson-Wake matchup is Clemson -15.
Let me just say that if we don’t make it past Wake, I’ll be on suicide watch and the rest of the season won’t matter. But if, we get past Wake and then Temple (and that one’s not even in doubt, is it?) then we face Georgia Tech as our Homecoming opponent and Virginia Tech just 5 days later in Blacksburg.
Suddenly Georgia Tech looms much larger and Virginia Tech still looms large but a bit diminished.
But what to make of Georgia Tech? The win in Blacksburg is huge. However their other 3 wins were against not-so-great Samford, Troy, and Virginia. The 14-10 loss in the opener against Notre Dame is hard to interpret as well because of my general lack of belief in the qulity of the Irish. The Jackets are averaging 29 PPG while maintaining the #10 rushing and #5 pass efficiency defenses. Statistically they’re mediocre on offense. Calvin Johnson may be the only thing that makes Reggie Ball look like a decent QB. Ball is throwing completions at just over 50% with 5 interceptions (two against VT) and 9 touchdowns. They play the Terps next week with a bye the following weekend.
Clemson could win this one by 20, but knowing recent history against the Jackets, I’ll be happy with any victory. This one will come down to fundamentals and taking care of the football. Our special teams problems may sink us like they did at Boston College.
Virginia Tech seems similarly good but not great. They have beaten Northeastern (38-0), UNC (35-10), Duke (36-0), and Cincinnati (29-13). In the latter 3 games they haven’t played particularly inspired football. Consider that they led just 21-3 against UNC at the end of 3 quarters. Consider that Clemson was up 52-0 after three. Beating Duke isn’t that impressive when you consider that Virginia, who is just one small step ahead of being completely awful, beat them 37-0. That leaves 2-3 Cincinnati who actually led 13-12 going into the 4th quarter. As much as I hate Cincinnati, they are good at putting scares into big-time programs. But for VT to have been losing that late in the game now serves as a very good foreshadowing of a team about to get knocked down a peg. They may have also shattered any semblance of a Virginia Tech passing game. Sean Glennon was just 11-23 against UC. Georgia Tech shutdown the VT running game holding Brandon Ore to just 59 yards forcing Glennon to throw 53 times with just 27 completions.
The Hokies don’t play next weekend. But on October 12th they travel to 4-1 Boston College for a Thursday night game. Nine days later they host a tough Southern Miss team which has already knocked off Chuck and his pair of DD Amato’s at Carter-Finley.
For this week, I’ll say to look for a 10 point win over Georgia Tech and a 14 point win over Virginia Tech.