Clemson Tigers

Under Achievers

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In previous years the ACC has been the premier basketball conference.

Blue blood programs like Duke and North Carolina routinely make the Final Four and win national championships. Both teams played in the Final Four last season and UNC played in the national title game. Both programs are struggling this season.

The Tar Heels were the No. 1 team in the preseason. They have not lived up to those expectations. They currently are 18 – 11, 10 – 8 in conference play.

They did defeat No. 6 Virginia over the weekend. That was their first Quadrant 1 win, which is crucial for an at-large team. They were previously 0 – 9 against those teams.

“His ability to stretch it, and then he can also go inside – he’s tall, man,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Pete Nance. “He filled in the way (Brady Manek) did last year. When they can stretch you out and all of a sudden the floor opens up, that changes their dynamics.”

The Cavaliers (21 – 6) are the highest ranked team in the conference at No. 13. They are currently third-place in the ACC behind Pitt and Miami. They also lost to lowly Boston College earlier last week, scoring a season-low 48 points. UVA is going in the wrong direction less than a month before the NCAA tournament begins.

The Blue Devils (21 – 8) are fifth in the conference. They were No. 7 in the preseason poll. It looks like they are coming together at the perfect time. Star freshman forward Kyle Filipowski is the leading scorer (14.8 points per game) and rebounder (9.2 per game) this season. He should be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft and if he plays well Duke can win any game.

Duke won four consecutive games and they are trending in the right direction as the season is winding down. They have two regular season games remaining against NC State and at North Carolina. The ACC Tournament begins March 7th.

No. 16 Miami (23 – 6) has changed the culture of their program. They used to be known as a football school but over the last few years they changed that. The Hurricanes are coming off of a bad loss to in-state rival Florida State (9 – 20) over the weekend. They blew a 25 point second half lead to lose, 85 – 84.

“We played as well as we could in the first half,” Miami coach Jim Larrañaga said. “But it appeared to me to start the second half that our battery died. We didn’t have the energy or juice and it showed most of all with our defense.”

The loss ended Miami’s seven game winning streak. It also knocked them out of an outright lead in the ACC standings and a perfect home record. They have one game remaining against Pitt.

Clemson (21 – 8) is having a surprisingly good season. They are currently fourth in the conference. In previous years this would be more impressive. They should make the NCAA Tournament and they have a chance to win a game.

This is a down year for the ACC but they should get 5-6 teams in the NCAA Tournament. I would be surprised if they have a team that can advance to the Elite Eight.

Shuffling The Deck

By: Garrison Ryfun

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With the ACC going division-less in 2023, the championship will now be played by the top two teams in the conference, instead of the winners of each division.

Since the conference is going division-less, teams will now play what is described as a 3-5-5 schedule.

This means that from at least 2023 to 2026, ACC teams will have three primary opponents and a rotation of the other ten teams in the conference.

The ACC guarantees that through this new scheduling format, each team will have a home and away game against all 13 other teams in this four-year window.

Though not all that common, this will prevent a championship game played by a 7-5 or 6-6 winner of either the Coastal or Atlantic division.

Once again, the divisions will not exist anymore but every team will be locked into three specific opponents.

Here are the primary opponents for each team in the ACC:

Boston College: Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, and Syracuse

Clemson: Florida State, Georgia Tech, and NC State

Duke: North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest

Florida State: Clemson, Miami, and Syracuse

Georgia Tech: Clemson, Louisville, and Wake Forest

Louisville: Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), and Virginia

Miami (FL): Boston College, Florida State, and Louisville

North Carolina: Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia

NC State: Clemson, Duke, and North Carolina

Pittsburgh: Boston College, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech

Syracuse: Boston College, Florida State, and Pittsburgh

Virginia: Louisville, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech: Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Wake Forest

Wake Forest: Duke, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech

Notre Dame, though not an official member of the conference for football, will still play their contractually obligated five ACC opponents under this new system.

This move just makes sense for the health of the conference.

In the upcoming age of super conferences, with Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC and USC and UCLA making their move to the Big Ten, having the two best teams in your conference title game will only help with national perception for the top of your conference.

It will already be hard enough to convince teams like Florida State and Clemson to not look elsewhere during this era. Super conferences will only create more revenue, especially in the television space for their member teams.

This is a step forward, albeit small, for the conference, and could give fans some fun in-season rematches in the championship game for years to come.

The biggest problem the ACC has left is figuring out how to navigate college football in this upcoming era.

Convincing Notre Dame, whose contract with NBC expires in 2025, and another high-profile team to join the conference is the next big step the ACC has to take to remain relevant in the football space.

Frantic Atlantic

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are going to take a look at the ACC Atlantic division and predict how the teams will do this season.

#7 Syracuse: Dino Babers has had one winning season out of six at Syracuse. That includes 15 conference wins out of 50 ACC games.

The Orange return one of the nation’s top running backs in Sean Tucker (1,496 yards) but big progress in the passing game is needed under new play-caller Robert Anae.

Quarterback Garrett Shrader (781 rushing yards & 14 TDs) threw for less than 100 yards in three of his last four starts.

#6 Louisville: Quarterback Malik Cunningham was one of the best dual-threat players in the country last year and he’s back in 2022.

He was a 62% passer a year ago, throwing for 2,734 yards and 18 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions, while also rushing for over 1,000 yards and 20 additional touchdowns, both top 10 numbers nationally.

He lost a few receivers that transferred but the Cardinals also had some talented players transfer into the program. Wide receivers Tyler Hudson (Central Arkansas) and Dee Wiggins (Miami) should be good playmakers on the outside.

Tight end Marshon Ford (49 receptions) has a chance to be an All-ACC first-team pick.

They also return four starters on the offensive line.

#5 Boston College: The Eagles started 4-0 last season before the wheels fell off and they lost four consecutive games.

They finished at 6-6 and won just one ACC game at Chestnut Hill.

Quarterback Phil Jurkovec went down in Week 2 and he didn’t return until November. He’ll be back this season with running back Pat Garwo III and receiver Zay Flowers. They only return one starter on the offensive line so that is a big concern.

They return 7 starters on defense and they only gave up 22.2 points a game last fall.

#4 Florida State: The Seminoles made progress in head coach Mike Norvell’s second year in ’21, finishing 5-7. I don’t expect them to compete for the conference title, but they win total should increase.

Quarterback Jordan Travis passed for 2,074 yards, 15 touchdowns and 6 picks.

The season opener is in New Orleans against LSU. The Tigers are coming off of a disappointing season with a new head coach so FSU can win that game and set the tone for the season.

#3 Wake Forest: QB Sam Hartman returns after leading the offense to 41 points per game last year.

The Demon Deacons have talented receivers like A.T. Perry, Taylor Morin and Donavan Greene. They also return four O line starters.

Defense is where they struggled the most in 2021 and it’s still a big question mark.

#2 NC State: The Wolfpack return 17 starters, which is the most of any team in the ACC from a squad that went 9-3 last fall.

That includes quarterback Devin Leary (35 TDs, 5 INTs) and one of the nation’s top linebacker units anchored by Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas.

They must replace its top two rushers (Bam Knight and Ricky Person) and elite left tackle Ikem Ekwonu. They averaged a league low 3.3 yards per rush in 2021.

#1 Clemson: The Tigers had their streak of consecutive ACC titles snapped at six and failed to make the CFB Playoff for the first time since ’14 last season.

Offense was a problem last year and five-star QB DJ Uiagalelei completed 55.6% of his passes for 9 TDs and 10 picks. In theory he can’t get any worse and if he plays better Clemson will be back in the Top 10.

 

 

Ill Play There

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

National Early Signing Day has come and gone for college football and here is what the top 10 looked like:

 

1.Texas A&M

2.Alabama

3.Georgia

4.Ohio State

5.Texas

6.Penn State

7.Notre Dame

8.North Carolina

9.Michigan

10.Oklahoma

Here are some of my take aways from National Early Signing Day:

Texas A&M-This is Jimbo Fisher’s first #1 class, however A&M has consistently been in the top 10 over the last few years. This has not translated into being relevant in the National Championship picture or even in the SEC West.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma-Both of these programs did well to finish in the top 10, considering they both lost their head coaches weeks before National Early Signing Day.

North Carolina-The Tar Heels once again finished inside the Top 10, second straight year. Possibly a rising ACC power?

Kentucky-The Wildcats finished with the 11th class in the country. Yes, you read that right, 11th! Kentucky is making a case to replace Florida as the second-best team in the SEC East.

Florida State and Tennessee-Two blue bloods hoping to wake up the echoes. Their recruiting classes will help. FSU finished 13th and Tennessee 14th.

Clemson-The Tigers were a perennial Top 5 program when it came to recruiting for a decade. Looks like the guard is changing in the ACC as the Tigers finished 17th.

Georgia Tech-The Yellow Jackets have recruited well the last few years under Geoff Collins, without a lot of wins to show for it. Tech finished 25th last year, but dipped to 41 this season. A bad omen for Geoff Collins.

UCF and Cincinnati-These two soon-to-be Big 12 teams have been the flies in the ointment of the college football playoff and you would think that would translate to better recruiting classes, it hasn’t. Cincinnati finished 38th and UCF 42nd.

Vanderbilt-Something must be in the water in Nashville as the Commodores netted a top 40 class for the first time in… who knows how long. 38th

Florida-The Gators’ dumpster fire only gets worse. The mighty Gators ended up with the 50th ranked class in the country. New Hire Billy Napier was left with a mess. Recruit after recruit decommitted from the swamp. Good luck, Billy.

Miami-Another big mess to clean up in the state of Florida. Mario Cristobal will have his work cut out for him too. The Hurricanes finished 62nd.

USC-The mighty Trojans finished with only 6 commits. SIX! Good enough for 81st.

Georgia State-The Panthers must get credit. They cracked the top 100 with the 84th class. This program keeps getting better.

Georgia Southern-The Eagles must improve from being outside of the top 100 to compete. They reeled in the 109th class.

 

ACC Pulse

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As you all know 2020 was a year like we’ve never seen in our lifetime. Everything was affected by the global pandemic, including sports.

We’re going to take a look at the current state of the ACC up to this point.

The two blue blood programs, Duke and North Carolina are both unranked for the first time since 1982.

The only undefeated team in conference play is Virginia (9-2, 5-0). The Cavaliers are the highest rated team in the ACC, ranked 13th. When is the last time the first-place team in this conference wasn’t in the top 10?

Right now, UVA is the most consistent team and they play great defense. Senior forward Sam Hauser is the team leader in points per game and rebounds per game with 13.8 and 7.5.

#16 Virginia Tech (11-2, 5-1) is in second place. The lone conference loss was at Louisville 73 – 71.

The Hokies don’t play their archrival until January 30th. If they can get past Boston College, Syracuse and Notre Dame before that then that game will be for control of the conference. Junior forward Keve Aluma is the best player on the team with 14.8 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

Florida State (8-2, 4-1) is one of the most dangerous teams in the country. The Seminoles are full of tall and athletic playmakers.

They recently beat Louisville on the road 78 – 65. That was only the second conference loss for the Cardinals so that is an impressive win. I’m not sure how FSU is not ranked.

Pitt (7-2, 3-1) may have the best player in the conference. Sophomore forward Justin Champagnie is averaging 18.7 ppg and 12.9 rpg.

They’ve had three games against Duke, Florida State and Georgia Tech postponed. The lone conference loss was against Louisville. We’re going to learn a lot about the Panthers soon when they play Duke this week.

It’s surprising that Duke is the fifth ranked team in the conference. The Blue Devils (5-3, 3-1) rely heavily on talented freshmen and they are having a hard time adjusting.

They have had five games cancelled or postponed so they lost valuable time to gain experience. All three loses were to ranked teams: #8 Michigan State, #6 Illinois and #20 Virginia Tech.

I think this is a pretty good team and that will show as the season progresses.

Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-1) has to be the most surprising team. The Yellow Jackets have had four games postponed or cancelled.

They lost to Georgia State, Mercer and FSU.

The next four games are against Clemson, Virginia, Duke and FSU. I think Tech’s record is inflated and they’ll come back down to earth after that.

#20 Clemson is 8th in the ACC but nationally ranked above several teams in front of them.

The Tigers (9-2, 3-2) lost to UVA and Virginia Tech.

The team’s leading scorer, Aamir Simms only averages 11.6 ppg. I think Clemson is a decent team, but they are not a contender.

North Carolina is coming off of a disappointing 2019-20 season. The Tar Heels (8-5, 3-3) are following that trend this season.

The next five games are against Wake Forest, NC State, Pitt, Clemson and Duke. They need to win four of those games to position themselves to make the NCAA Tournament.

They lack talent so I don’t think it’s possible. Armando Bacot leads the team with 11.2 ppg.

NC State, Miami, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Boston College and Wake Forest are the remaining teams. These teams do not have a chance to get in the NCAA Tournament.

The Heisman Race

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Normally this time of year means the college football regular season is almost over.

Due to the pandemic, the season was delayed for several conferences like the Big Ten and Pac 12. I’m going to take a look at the top five Heisman Trophy candidates.

Kyle Trask/ Florida: I feel like he should be the hands down favorite at this point. It’s hard to believe this guy was sitting on the bench behind Feleipe Franks.

Earlier in the season I said he’s this year’s Joe Burrow. I don’t think anybody can match Burrow’s video game like stats from 2019 but I’m talking about the drastic improvement he made. Also, both of them were not expected to play at that level going into their final season.

They have had the LSU game postponed due to several players on the team having COVID. I hope that game can get played in December so Trask can play the maximum amount of games.

He led the Gators to a win over No. 5 Georgia that they desperately needed. The defense is not very good, so they basically have to outscore their opponents. Trask is basically good for at least four passing TD’s every game.

Trevor Lawrence/ Clemson: He’s the clear consensus as the best quarterback and number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, he had COVID and had to miss two games.

One of them was at No. 4 Notre Dame and that could have been his Heisman moment.

The Tigers like to run the ball with All-American running back Travis Etienne so that takes away from Lawrence’s stats.

If he plays well against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship that could catapult him to the top of the Heisman list.

Travis Etienne/ Clemson: I know this has become a quarterback award but he really deserves consideration.

He’s a true dual threat running back and his number are very good.

Mac Jones/ Alabama: He has the Crimson Tide undefeated (6-0) and he’s playing very well. Jones has thrown for 2,196 yards (8th), 16 TD’s (tied-13th), 2 interceptions with a 95.6 QBR (2nd).

He’s on the best team and I think Bama will finish undefeated. His stats are impressive because Alabama is another team that likes to run the ball. Najee Harris has over 700 yards rushing.

The LSU game has been postponed due to a Coronavirus outbreak in the program. We don’t know if that game will actually get played but that would be an easy win for Bama.

The only challenge should be against Florida in the SEC Championship.

Justin Fields/ Ohio State: The Buckeyes have only played three games because the Big Ten started the season late and the Maryland game was canceled.

Fields only has 7 games to make a case as the best player.

The More Things Change….

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As we approach the middle of the college football season and the Big 10 and PAC-12 look to start their schedules, I want to take a minute and look back at a few things that have stuck out up to this point.

To begin with, the Top 25 rankings have about as much relevancy as the Art Appreciation class you took second semester your Junior year. I get it’s only fair to rank the teams that have actually played, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bit misleading.

Trying to do this without including teams from two of the major conferences is like listing the best Adam Sandler movies, but only including those that have gone straight to Netflix; North Carolina is a perfect example.

If this were any other year the Tarheels would be a fringe Top 20 team, but instead they were ranked 5th before losing to Florida State- they were basically Hubie Halloween.

Secondly, the SEC has dropped all pretense about trying to give off the perception they are a defense first league.

The conference has been trending this way for a few years now, but even those stalwarts who hung their arguments about the defense on the lone 12-9 game every year can’t really argue at this point.

That’s not to say the SEC is the Big 12 where recruiting a defensive player is akin to begrudgingly drafting a player in the youth league because their dad volunteered to coach.

The SEC still has a plethora of talent on that side of the ball, it’s just the level of talent they’re seeing on the offensive side of the ball has grown exponentially.

It’s no surprise though, when you look at some of the coaches the conference has brought in recently; many of whom are offensive-minded.

I give the coaches and athletic directors a lot of credit for changing with the times; it’s one of the reasons the conference has been as dominant as it has been recently.

And finally, Alabama and Clemson are The Andy Griffith Show. When I was 8 years old, I woke up Christmas morning to find a color tv in our living room.

The first show that was on when I turned the power on was Andy Griffith. Being eight and not realizing that the show was filmed in black and white, I thought the tv was broken and automatically became upset until my parents changed the channel.

Point being, we all came into this season expecting to see something different, but Clemson continues to dominate a less than impressive ACC, and the one team I thought might be able to defeat Alabama, Georgia, could only hang for a half. (For what it’s worth, I think Georgia is closer to Alabama than the final score showed, but they’re not there, yet,)

We’re basically in the middle of a five-year tv marathon starring Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, and we’re not in a position to just be able to change the channel.

It’s easy to look at these things I’ve mentioned and think they’ll change once everyone starts playing, but I don’t believe they will.

The Top 25 will still be difficult to rank based on the disparity of games played, you’ll continue to see high scoring games in the SEC, and in the end it will all come down to Alabama and Clemson. Even Barney Fife knows that.

Lost Rivals

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC announced it would be moving to a 10-game only conference game schedule for the 2020 football season.

With this news it means it means people will not see Georgia/Georgia Tech, South Carolina/Clemson, Florida/Florida State, nor Kentucky/Louisville play their rivalry games this fall.

The start of the season will be pushed back until September 26th.

If you are a UGA fan this probably means you open the season in Tuscaloosa against Alabama on that date. It is unclear at this time which teams the Bulldogs would add to the schedule.

It’s assumed that they would play the six teams from the SEC East and keep the Crimson Tide, this year’s SEC West rotational opponent, and Auburn, the annual SEC West opponent, on the schedule.

The SEC is developing a formula based on strength of schedule to determine the remaining two games for each SEC team.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the shift to late September will allow schools to reintegrate their entire student bodies on campus amid the new challenges presented by the pandemic.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

Clemson and South Carolina have played every year since 1909.

Georgia and Georgia Tech, which have played 114 times, have met in each season since 1925.

Florida and Florida State started playing each other in 1958. I hate losing these three games as a fan in 2020.

Other Big SEC non-conference games that were cut in 2020 are Alabama vs. USC in Arlington, Texas, was canceled when the Pac-12 opted to play only conference games.

Two other ACC-SEC games Georgia vs. Virginia and Auburn vs. North Carolina at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta are gone.

Other games that won’t be played: Texas at LSU, Arkansas at Notre Dame, Tennessee at Oklahoma, Missouri at BYU, Vanderbilt at Kansas State and Mississippi State at NC State.

2020 will go down as one of the worst years in history with the Covid-19 pandemic. I lost a family member to this deadly pandemic.

College football is like comfort food to many of us in the South, currently. I’m hoping the season takes place. As a UGA fan it bothers you that you can’t play a rival that is only 70 miles from your campus, but I applaud the SEC and the University Presidents for doing everything in their power to have a football season.

Questions to be answered now:

Once play begins will we even have fans in attendance?

Will UGA/UF be played in Jacksonville this year?

With the conference only format, will Florida and Georgia lose a home game?

What does a competitive balanced additional two SEC games mean?

Does that mean Florida picks up Texas A&M and Auburn while Alabama picks up Vanderbilt and Missouri?

Long time SEC fans know how everything seems to benefit Alabama in the long run. Yes, I said it prove me wrong from a historical perspective. It is going to be interesting when the additional two game rotation rolls out.

The ultimate goal is to have SEC football this fall, and Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate will resume in 2021 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

Numbers Don’t Lie

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I was listening recently and don’t ask me why I was tuned in to a regional radio show that suggested that the ACC was the best football conference in the country due to Clemson’s recent success on the gridiron.

These types of things interest me because I know the SEC is the king in football, so I looked up the stats to confirm what I already know. Here goes:

P5 Conference Bowl Records (All-Time)

SEC: 261-195-9 (.571)

ACC: 132-140-2 (.485)

BIG 12: 84-88-0 (.488)

B1G: 143-163-1 (.467)

PAC 12: 149-136-5 (.522)

The PAC 12 is the only other “Power 5” conference with a winning bowl record.

 

SEC All-Time vs. Other Conferences (current conferences)

SEC vs:

ACC: 319-171-10 (.648)

AAC: 19-8-0 (.704)

B1G: 96-65-2 (.595)

BIG 12: 98-79-6 (.552)

CUSA: 158-28 (.849)

MAC: 98-14 (.875)

Mountain West: 25-11 (.694)

PAC 12: 74-43-5 (.627)

Sun Belt: 154-11 (.933) –

 

Random tidbits:

SEC TEAMS VS. ACC

W     L     T   Win %    PFPG    PAPG

Alabama       26     5     0    83.9    28.3    13.3

Arkansas         0     2     0     0.0    17.0    27.5

Auburn         34    12     0    73.9    26.5    16.6

Florida          33    26     2    55.7    24.3    19.6

Georgia        77    27     5    72.9    25.4    17.1

Kentucky      15    15     1    50.0    19.5    18.5

LSU                24     2     0    92.3    28.5    10.8

Mississippi      1     4     0    20.0    18.0    31.4

Mississippi St  6     7     0    46.2    24.5    28.2

South Carolina 18    23     0    43.9    20.7    24.4

Tennessee             36    15     1    70.2    24.7    15.8

Texas A&M              2     4     0    33.3    35.5    32.5

Vanderbilt            31    25     0    55.4    21.4    21.3

 

Clemson is by far the best football program in the ACC currently, but their all-time record against the SEC is 56-99-5, and 6-9 in bowl games.

 

CLEMSON VS. SEC TEAMS

W     L     T   Win %    PFPG    PAPG

Alabama         2    11     0    15.4    13.2    31.5

Auburn            9    17     1    35.2    16.3    22.6

Florida             2     2     1    50.0    14.8    22.2

Georgia           9    28     2    25.6    12.8    22.8

Kentucky         5     6     0    45.5    13.7    13.0

LSU                   1     3     0    25.0    14.3    20.8

Mississippi       0     1     0     0.0     0.0    13.0

Mississippi St   1     1     1    50.0    11.7    10.3

South Carolina 18    10     0    64.3    28.0    21.2

Tennessee          1     4     0    20.0    17.6    22.0

Texas A&M         2     0     0   100.0    26.0    18.0

Vanderbilt           1     1     0    50.0    16.0    14.5

 

Note: Clemson is 18-42-4 all-time against Georgia but for this story only games against SEC are counted.

SEC was formed in 1933. Florida State is the only ACC team with a winning record against the SEC.

FSU has a losing all-time record against SEC teams, but a winning record against the SEC since they joined the ACC in the 1990’s.

 

SEC Bowl Records vs. P5 Opponents

The SEC is 47-29 (.618) against the ACC in bowl games.

The SEC is 57-32 (.640) against the B1G in bowl games.

The SEC is 46-36-1 (.560) against the BIG 12 in bowl games.

The SEC is 9-7-1 (.559) against the PAC 12 in bowl games.

 

Clemson does have a winning record against the SEC over the last decade thanks to their current ownership of South Carolina.

There you have it folks, proof in numbers that the SEC is the most dominant football conference in the country.

I respect the ACC as a football conference, but FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech need give the Tigers some help at the top.

LSU is the current king of College Football and flat out owns the ACC.

Clemson is probably the best overall program right now, but the SEC is the most powerful conference because the numbers don’t lie.

Down To Two

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The first round of the College Football Playoff was played this past weekend. Let’s take a look and recap what happened.

No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Oklahoma played the first game, The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Ga.

The Tigers (14-0) demolished OU (12-2), 63 – 28. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow was spectacular, passing for 493 yards and seven touchdowns. He also ran for a TD.

“We go into every game thinking nobody can stop us,” Burrow said.

LSU scored 49 points in the first half. Justin Jefferson scored all four of his touchdowns in the first half and finished with 14 catches for 227 yards.

Tight end Thaddeus Moss, son of Hall of Famer Randy Moss, had 99 receiving yards and a touchdown.

LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger learned shortly before kickoff that his daughter-in-law, broadcaster Carley McCord, was among five people killed in a plane crash in Louisiana. The small plane went down shortly after takeoff for what was supposed to be a flight to Atlanta for the game.

Head coach Ed Orgeron delivered the news to Ensminger, who was seen with tears running down his cheeks but stuck to the task at hand.

“What a tremendous, tremendous LSU Tiger,” Orgeron said after the game. “He called a great game tonight.” Coach O gave him the game ball.

No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson was a battle of two unbeaten teams. The Playstation Fiesta Bowl was played in Glendale, Arizona. Clemson won a close game, 29 – 23.

I’m not sure how the defending champion Tigers are being overlooked but they feel disrespected by it.

The Buckeyes (13-1) jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first half. They responded to a Clemson rally to retake the lead 23-21 in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers (14-0) needed four plays and 1:18, with Lawrence completing all three of his passes and mixing in an 11-yard run. The sophomore quarterback, who has never lost a college start, passed for 259 yards and two scores. He also ran for a career-high 107 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown late in the first half.

OSU drove the ball to the Clemson 23-yard line, but Justin Fields was intercepted by Nolan Turner with 37 seconds left.

“Everybody kept saying we didn’t play nobody, that we blow out teams. Tonight showed what we can do,” Clemson receiver Tee Higgins said. “We showed everybody we got fight in us.”

The Buckeyes played well on offense. Fields threw for 320 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. J.K. Dobbins ran for 174 yards and a touchdown.

“I told Ryan, that Ohio State team, what an unbelievable game, their quarterback, their back, those guys played their hearts out,” Swinney said. “But in the end, our guys showed what they’re made of. They’ve got the heart of a champion; they’ve got the eye of a tiger.”

The semifinals played out the way I expected. The best two teams won and they will play the national championship game in New Orleans January 13.

This is basically a home game for LSU but don’t count Clemson out.