JJ Lanier

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Ramblin Wreck

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have to imagine Geoff Collins begins each day staring at the mirror, doing his best Stuart Smalley impression.

However, instead of repeating the self-affirmation quotes that end with “….and doggone it, people like me” I picture him reciting all the reasons he decided to take the Georgia Tech head coaching gig in the first place- $3 million dollars a season…it’s not Temple…close proximity to The Varsity.

I feel as though it’s pretty safe to assume most anyone who watches college football knew this would be a tough transitional year for Georgia Tech, but I’m not sure even the most ardent of Yellow Jacket fans thought it would be this rough.

Not only are they the worst team in the ACC, but you could argue they are the worst of all the Power Five schools. The team is really living up to the whole Ramblin’ Wreck nickname, but for all the wrong reasons.

It’s hard to find many bright spots when your opponents are out gaining you by over 100 yards per contest, you haven’t scored more than 24 points in any game and you lost not only to an FCS school, but a bad one at that.

I could go even more in depth, but it would be close to bullying at that point, especially since you can’t really blame the current coaches or players for what’s taking place.

When you’re struggling through a season like Georgia Tech is currently going through, you can usually point to a litany of reasons as to why it’s happening. While that’s true in this case, the main culprit has to do with recruiting; the talent just isn’t there.

Paul Johnson did a decent job early in his tenure of bringing in players that fit his system, even if they weren’t the most talented.

That wasn’t necessarily the case over the past few seasons, so what’s left is a group of players brought in to play in a system no longer being used, most of whom just aren’t talented enough to compete at this level on a weekly basis.

To use the “Cook the meals, buy the groceries” analogy from Bill Parcells, Johnson bought the groceries he thought he needed to make lasagna and now Collins is having to turn those ingredients into stir fry.

Given the circumstances it’s hard to tell how much of an impact the new head coach has made, but the free pass you could argue he should be afforded lasts for this year only.

Now, I know contracts don’t necessarily mean a lot in today’s game, but given the seven-year contract Collins was given I have to believe the administration is willing to give him an opportunity to turn things around, even though it won’t be immediately.

I doubt Tech will be favored in any of their games for the remainder of the season, and even though they could pull off an upset or two, they are looking at arguably their worst season in 25 years. At this point it’s about getting to the end of the season without completely embarrassing yourself.

More than likely it will be a few years before Georgia Tech is back to being relevant on the college football landscape, although being in the Coastal Division could certainly help speed up the rebuilding process.

In the meantime, Collins may need to find things to add to his daily mirror pep talk.

Failure To Fly

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Making it to the proverbial mountain top is the goal of almost any athlete and coach.

The only problem with getting to the top is things can only go down from there. The Falcons may not have technically made it to the top of the mountain, but they, and Dan Quinn in particular, are finding out how quickly that fall can come.

So, here’s the good- Quinn ended an 18 draught for Falcons when he led them to the Super Bowl a few years ago.

He also guided them back to the playoffs the following year, something most teams that lost in the previous years’ championship game had struggled to repeat, so I give him credit for that. Plus, the Falcons have had some injuries, particularly on defense, which should be taken into account.

Now for the bad news- in today’s NFL none of what I mentioned above really matters, especially when you didn’t actually win the Super Bowl.

Since their Super Bowl appearance three years ago, Atlanta’s win total for each season has been 10-7-and “on pace for fewer than 7 wins this year”.

I realize after you win 14 games you’re going to step back, and 10 wins certainly isn’t anything to shrug, but it’s still a continual decline.

Defensively, the Falcons have had difficulty stopping the run and forcing turnovers; not a great combination, to say the least.

Fortunately, outside of the Houston game, where their defense had more leaks than the staff at the White House, they’ve been able to minimize the damage when it comes to points.

Surprisingly enough, the offensive side is really where they’ve been hurting. Matt Ryan is currently having a career worst TD/INT ratio and the running game is basically nonexistent.

Point being, you can deal with a few less wins each year as long as there isn’t a huge drop off in performance on the field, which isn’t the case.

Throw in the injuries to Drew Brees and Cam Newton, combined with Tampa’s inconsistency, and the season was opening up to be Atlanta’s for the taking.

The Falcons have yet to face either of those teams. All three are playing better than expected, so while their success isn’t a direct correlation to Atlanta’s struggles, it does make the season up to this point that much harder to handle.

You also can’t ignore Atlanta has some pretty high priced players that are right in the middle of their primes (Julio Jones) or close to nearing the end (Ryan), adding additional urgency to each season.

Personally, I don’t think Quinn should be in danger of losing his job, but the Falcons care about my opinion as much as McDonald’s does about my individual boycott of the McRib- seriously, that whole sandwich is just unnatural.

But, it’s all about what have you done for me lately, and if this current trajectory continues, Quinn answer will be very short.

I remember the simultaneous look of joy and exasperation on the face of my high school chemistry teacher when she found out we (her students) had the highest end of course test scores in the state; she was at the top of the mountain.

Unfortunately for Quinn he’s currently experiencing the exasperation and difficulty in Atlanta without having ever experienced the joy beforehand.

If things don’t change, he may not have to worry about it anymore, at least not in Atlanta.

Turn Off The Cam-Era

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We like our athletes a certain way- strait-laced, singularly focused on winning, and someone who plays the game the “right way”.

Of course, the definition of “right way” seems to change depending on what team the player is on.

So, when you have someone as gregarious as Cam Newton, playing the most visible position there is in sports, he’s going to be a lightning rod for all sorts of criticism.

This has led to numerous hot topic articles such as Newton’s post game press conference attire and how he only cares for himself. (Who cares about what he wears; Dwayne Wade wore pants to a presser that were size Osh Kosh B’Gosh for crying out loud. And as for Newton’s selfishness, that’s easily debunked by simply Googling “Cam Newton Charity Work”.)

While those topics may be fun to write about, the main storyline concerning Newton should revolve around whether or not it’s time for he and the Panthers to part ways.

It’s not a new sentiment by any means, but up until recently it was one whose fuel was fired by those who didn’t like Cam for reasons beyond his play on the field.

After the Panthers Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay, WFAN’s Joe Ovies tweeted: “Cam Newton game theory: Proving your shoulder strength is fine by overthrowing it every other pass attempt.” Besides wishing I had come up with that quip, the only thing I would’ve added was “…. while running for his life behind a porous offensive line.”

Cam shoulders a lot of the blame for his play when it comes to his lack of accuracy and his decision making, neither of which has improved much since he was drafted, but it’s not completely his fault he and the Panthers organization may have to decide on his future quicker than originally anticipated.

I think everyone could foreshadow his injuries due to way Cam plays the game, but Carolina’s inability to provide their franchise quarterback with any type of stability on the offensive line sure did expedite the whole thing.

I don’t remember exactly where I read it, but Cam has apparently had either a different Left Tackle or Guard to begin every season since 2013. It’s kind of hard to feel comfortable in a pocket when the people protecting your blindside change as often as Jon Gruden’s feelings towards his quarterbacks. (Knock on wood if you’re with me.)

Plus, it’s not like Cam has had an abundance of talent at the wideout position to help him as he’s scrambling for his life.

Kelvin Benjamin’s talent was surpassed only by his love for Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and Devin Funchess was so ineffective I actually forgot his name for a second.

The Panthers do have some young talent at the position now, but with the beating Cam has taken I’m not sure if it even matters at this point.

Behind Steve Smith and Julius Peppers, Cam is probably my third favorite Panther, so I very reluctantly answer the question I posed above about parting ways with a “yes”.

I still believe Cam can play and is an above average quarterback, I’m just not sure Carolina is where it’s going to happen. Both sides have legitimately done their best to make it work, it just didn’t turn out like they had hoped.

Whether his departure takes place this year or down the road, Cam’s positive impact on the Panthers and the city Charlotte will speak much louder than his fashion sense.

Pink Eyed

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have been a sports fan for the better part of thirty-five years, but over the past few years my enthusiasm has waned.

In part because of the antics that take place within schools, organizations, and players, but also because of the fans; when we get things wrong, we really get them wrong.

However, when fan interaction culminates into what took place in Athens for the Georgia/Arkansas State game, it shows that when we do get it right, we can make an impact.

Georgia’s impromptu “Pink Out” in honor of Wendy Anderson- the wife of Arkansas State’s Head Coach Blake Anderson- who passed away from breast cancer in August not only says a lot about the Georgia fan base (I’ll get to that in a second), but was also a significant gesture.

For one, this wasn’t proposed by the team being directly impacted by Anderson’s passing; it was done by the opposing school, with little to no ties to the program they were about to face. It’s one thing to participate in a cause someone else has put together, it’s something else entirely to be the place where the idea originates from.

Secondly, the fact it was done by Georgia brought an awareness to the story that frankly, Arkansas State would never be able to replicate.

Outside of the money raised from the pink t-shirts sold for the game, it’s difficult to know exactly how many donations came in solely because of the story’s exposure; I imagine it had to be a decent number though.

It’s like the difference between your local pizza place holding a fundraiser for an employee and Pizza Hut having one for that same employee. Suddenly. a story that had local roots was able to branch out nationwide.

Obviously, the Georgia fans- in particular the Bulldogs’ Battling Breast Cancer who initiated everything- deserve the credit for putting this together, something that has become somewhat of a norm in Athens.

Whether it’s the already planned “Pink Out” game scheduled for October, raising money for an assistant coach of an opposing team whose daughter was suffering from a rare genetic condition, or helping out their own former players, it seems pretty evident the UGA fan base does a good job of helping others in need.

I realize this type of assistance takes place at most programs across the country, but unfortunately most of those acts of kindness don’t get much publicity, and I thought this was more than deserving.

I also understand this type of loss is something that almost everyone has gone through at some point in their lives; many of whom don’t have the social support structure to help when it does occur.

It’s why things like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the Pink Out are so important; not only does it help raise money, but it lets people know there are things being done on their behalf.

No one would have blinked an eye or thought any less of Georgia had they just done a moment of silence in Wendy Anderson’s honor and then moved on to the game. Instead, they decided to go above and beyond and do something about it.

As fans, we like to preach about how sports can bring communities together, but are often slow to follow through. That wasn’t the case in Athens. For once, it was nice to see fans practice what they preach.

The Strong Silent Type

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For the better part of a decade at the wide receiver position, there has been almost a direct correlation between a player’s ability to perform on the field and his antics off it. The crazier the antics the more talented the player must be, otherwise why put up with it.

That said, it’s somewhat poetic that on the same day Antonio Brown is turning in a diva performance the entire cast of “Real Housewives of New York City” would’ve been proud of, Julio Jones is signed a contract making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.

I say this because when a player like Jones- someone who doesn’t throw sideline rants, blames losses on his lack of targets, or post videos on social media demeaning the organization he plays for- becomes the highest paid, it almost catches you by surprise. (During the stretch when Jones wasn’t getting many red zone targets, could you have pictured him posting a video of all his touchdown catches in Atlanta followed by the words “Remember Me???” as the video fades to black? Now how about Brown?)

I’m sure Jones is more vocal behind closed doors, but if so that at least seems to be where those conversations stay. And while some may look at him holding out as diva-like behavior I have no issue with it, especially when you consider the way it’s been handled by both Jones and the Falcons.

There are several different avenues to venture down when you discuss making a 30-year-old the highest paid wideout in the league, but the real story that will have implications across the league are the terms of the extension- $66 million over the next three years, all guaranteed.

Regardless of what side of the argument you fall on- whether contracts should be guaranteed or not- you must admit Jones’ contract could be the turning point for how those contracts are handled in the NFL.

How many times have you heard of a deal stalling out not because of the length or total money involved, but because of the guaranteed dollars?

As annoying as it is, there’s a reason “The number of years or total dollar amount doesn’t matter, it’s all about what’s guaranteed” comment is ingrained in our minds. I understand why NFL money isn’t guaranteed, but it’s a huge hurdle that sometimes can’t be overcome.

In a profession where contracts are built upon existing contracts with other players, why in the world would another player of Jones’ caliber settle for anything less than a fully guaranteed contract, or at least something close to that. If I were him, I wouldn’t.

I’m not saying this is something that will happen overnight, or take place for every player in the league, but the precedent has been set and I imagine there will be a line of football players waiting to follow in Jones’ footsteps.

Whether or not you believe Jones is worth the money at this stage of his career, or if you think he’ll have lived up to his contract five years from now may not even matter.

There’s a good chance we’ll look back at his signing as a change of the times and something that may alter the way the NFL handles contracts from here on out.

And it all happened without the use of Instagram.

Panthers Moving Mountains

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In 2007 Appalachian State began their season by defeating Michigan in one of the biggest upsets in college football history and capped it off by winning a third straight 1-AA (FCS) Championship.

The success of that season helped finalize the program’s decision to move from the FCS to the FBS, a move that has catapulted the Mountaineers to become one of the best mid-major football programs in college football; winners of four straight bowl games, three consecutive Sun Belt titles, and one of the best overall records since 2014.

Most of what has transpired since their win in Ann Arbor probably would have taken place had they lost that game, but it’s still the first thing that pops into the minds of most football fans when you mention Appalachian State.

I say all this show the positive effects an upset win like Appalachian has, something Georgia State hopes to familiarize themselves with after their 38-30 win over Tennessee.

The similarities between the Mountaineers and Panthers begins and ends with their upset wins, so it is unlikely to see Georgia State make the same kind of strides their conference peers have made.

However, that’s not to say this win won’t have a major impact on the program’s possible success five or six years from now.

A lot will depend on how the rest of Georgia State’s season goes. Their football program has struggled mightily since forming in 2010 and took a big step backwards last year after appearing in their second bowl game the season before that.

The Panthers are sure to see a boost in their recruiting based upon the Tennessee win alone, but if they’re able to ride that momentum to another bowl game, it’ll just make their program that much more enticing.

There is a plethora of homegrown talent in the state of Georgia, as well as its neighboring states, that are overlooked by the bigger schools in the area.

When competing with other schools in the Sun Belt for those players, having a win over a team like Tennessee on your resume can sometimes be the difference maker.

Add to that the ability to prove yourself to be a program that participates in bowl games, which translates to exposure on a national level for recruits, and younger the kind of success Appalachian State has been able to enjoy.

It’s not something that will happen overnight, but you’ll be able to see the impact over the next year or two in the level of talent Georgia State is able to recruit. Having a successful season this year will just help expedite the process.

Unfortunately, they play in the same division as Appalachian, Georgia Southern, and Troy, so it will certainly be an uphill climb. Plus, even though it’s a problem any mid-major program would like to have, Georgia State isn’t going to sneak up on anyone, now.

It’s funny, oftentimes when an upset occurs, we tend to look at the more prestigious team and try to figure out what went wrong and what it means for their future; just think of how many Tennessee and Jeremy Pruitt stories you’ve read since the game.

Rarely do we look at the winning team and see what type of impact it has on their program. Appalachian State made the most of their opportunity twelve years ago; will Georgia State take advantage of theirs?

Running Division

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

When it comes to the NFL, quarterbacks are going to get most of the publicity, good or bad. And if two of the last four NFL MVP’s have been quarterbacks within your division (Cam Newton, Matt Ryan) and a third is a future first ballot Hall of Famer who also happens to be the all-time leader in passing yards (Drew Brees) you can understand why the position gets the attention it does.

However, if you look past the big names at the top of marquee, you’ll see the teams in the NFC South have a pretty impressive supporting cast, especially at the running back position.

Atlanta Falcons: DeVonta Freeman.

The Falcons running back reminds me of the younger brother you never let play in your buddies’ pickup games until mom forces you to let him play, only to find out he was better than most of your friends.

Since his arrival in 2014, Freeman has quietly put together a very underrated start to his career. In the three years leading up to this last season, when Freeman was inured for all but two games, he was averaging just under 1,500 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns a year.

That may not put him on the level of the next two players I’m about to mention, but that is the type of production almost any coach would take from the running back position.

Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey.

There were times last season where it felt like McCaffrey had his hands on the ball more than Cam Newton.

McCaffrey saw his rushing attempts almost double in his second full season, but much like Freeman, his main potency comes from catching balls out of the backfield; he had 107 receptions this past season.

He had almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year and as much as Newton is the main driver within the offense, McCaffrey has become the focal point.

New Orleans Saints: Alvin Kamara.

The Saints running back is the Fantasy Football gift that just keeps giving. His numbers actually fall in between the aforementioned Freeman and McCaffrey, but his ability to break loose for the big play/score puts him a category just above his divisional peers.

In today’s NFL, where catching the ball out of the backfield is almost as important to a running back as their ability to run between the tackles, don’t be surprised if Kamara becomes a Top 5 within the next year or two.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Peyton Barber.

My wife always says to ignore anything that comes before “…..but,” so I’m going to dispense with the niceties; Barber just isn’t on the level with the three that I’ve mentioned.

The former Auburn Tiger running back is much more one dimensional than his counterparts and yet he may still be the worst of the four in that one particular area.

In a story where I’m trying to make the case that the strength of the running back position in the NFC South is on par with any other division in the NFL, Barber is the counterpoint to that argument.

Over the past few years the NFC South has been able to place much of their notoriety on the shoulders of Brees, Ryan, and Newton.

For a variety of reasons, they may be forced in the near future to turn to a different set of players. Those players may already be in place; they just happen to be at a different position.

Storm Brewing In Miami?

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

If you had asked me three years ago to place a significant amount of money on which coach- Kirby Smart at Georgia or Mark Richt at Miami- would be the first to leave, I would have doubled down on Smart, no questions asked.

The storyline surrounding Richt was just too good; a well-respected coach returning to his alma mater in hopes of returning them back to national prominence. Oh well, sometimes the story has a Cormac McCarthy ending rather than a Disney one.

So, out goes Richt and in comes Diaz, freshly removed from a two and a half week “vacation” we’ll call it, as Temple’s Head Coach.

It’s always difficult to gauge how much of an impact a first-year coach, let alone first-time head coach will make, but the Miami native and former Broyle Award winner (college football’s top assistant) is as highly regarded as they come; very Kirby Smart-esque, if you will.

Being a defensive coordinator at heart- tell me if you’ve heard this before- it’s no surprise that one of Diaz’s most important decisions was who he brought in to be offensive coordinator. Diaz’s choice of Dan Enos as OC says two things:

  1. Diaz has someone on that side of the ball he can trust to execute his vision. Enos has been around for a while and has enough experience as a coordinator that Diaz should know exactly who he’s getting.
  2. Enos’ reputation has really been built off his success with quarterbacks, including Tua Tagovailoa this past season. This is vital considering what I’m about to bring up next.

Outside of the uncertainty Diaz brings as a coach the big question in Coral Gables, “Who will be the Hurricanes starting quarterback?” was answered in a very unexpected way.

Originally, the QB battle was thought to be a two man race between N’Kosi Perry, who started the back half of last season for Miami and Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, who is shaping up to be the greatest college quarterback never to play.

Instead, the job went to redshirt freshman Jarren Williams; someone both Diaz and Enos feel has the biggest upside of the three.

Normally when you have a new coach, offensive coordinator, and starting quarterback you try to temper expectations a bit. While that’s probably not a bad idea for the ‘Canes, their schedule is actually as favorable as they could ask for.

Outside of their season opener against Florida, their two opponents that should be the most difficult, Virginia and Virginia Tech, will both be played at home, in Hard Rock Stadium.

If Miami is able to at least split those two games, the rest of their ACC schedule sets up nicely for them to make a run at the Coastal Division title. The only other real stumbling block could be Florida State, but they have even more question marks than Miami.

With Diaz at the helm and the number of defensive starters Miami has returning, fans should feel pretty comfortable with that side of the ball.

If Enos and Williams can get the offensive side on track, a 9-3 season isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

There’s a new regime, along with a renewed sense of hope in Miami, a sentiment they’ve gone through more often than not lately. It feels like this could be the start of something special for the Hurricanes and their fans, but I’ll stay away from any predictions; they normally don’t turn out quite like I expect.


War Chant

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

1976. Jimmy Carter was elected President, the first Rocky movie was released, and Apple Computer Company was officially formed.

It was also the last time the Florida State Seminoles football program experienced a losing season, until this past year.

Florida State’s decline wasn’t an obvious inevitability, staring you right in the face, but it’s not like there weren’t signs.

Entering last season, the Seminoles’ previous three seasons had all been worse, in one form or another, that one before.

It all culminated in a 2017 season that saw a program, only a few years removed from a national title, forced to play a make-up game against an inferior opponent just to make it to .500, while also losing their head coach to another program; neither of which Florida State was used to.

Obviously last year wasn’t any better, not only from a record standpoint (5-7), but from a competitive one, as well. Their average margin of victory in their five wins was 10.8 points; normally not something to scoff at until you realize none of those victories were against a team that finished the season in the Top 25.

Plus, their average margin of defeat in those seven losses, two of which were to their in-state rivals, was 24.14 points.

At this point I’m sure you’re thinking “I get it, last season was disaster. But, what about this year?” So, what about this season? Well, on paper, it certainly looks like there should be significant improvement.

With Deondre Francois gone, the QB job is James Blackman’s to lose.  Considering the lack of support he received from the offensive line last year, Blackman did well in a role he was somewhat thrusted in to.

There is plenty of talent in the backfield and at the wideout position, the main question on the offensive side of the ball is the offensive line.

Can the line run block well enough to get Cam Akers a few lanes to run through and can they be just competent enough pass blocking to allow Blackman to utilize those weapons on the outside.

Regardless of your opinion on Willie Taggart bringing in Kendal Briles to run his offense, there should be a vast improvement.

On the defensive side it’s more a good news, bad news situation. The good news is they bring 8 starters from last year’s team. The bad news is the defense thought they were playing in the Big 12 conference, or at least they allowed the opposing offense to score like they were.

Does experience help if it wasn’t very good to begin with? With the potential Florida State has on the offensive side of the ball the defense doesn’t have to be reminiscent of years past, but they do have to at least be middle of the road.

The bottom line for the Florida State faithful is that after two of the worst seasons they’ve gone through in roughly 40 years they should start to see the roller coaster begin its ascent back up the tracks.

Their schedule still has a few too many question marks to expect them to win more than seven or eight games, but fans should see the foundation being laid. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind another 42-year streak.

Become The Villain

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

As sports fans we tend to gravitate towards the underdog; it’s human nature. So, when I hear about how we love to build our athletes up just so we can ultimately tear them down, I’m not sure I completely agree.

I mean, if we innately root for the underdog doesn’t it make sense that we would pull against them once they reached the top of his or her profession and ceased the be the underdog?

Some of the most despised teams and athletes we currently enjoy watching fail are the same ones we once cheered for.

I mention all this because in college football Clemson has been that national underdog for the last few years. Not in the general sense that they are the surprise team that came out of nowhere, but because they don’t play in the SEC and have been the only team to consistently put down the sports top program, Alabama.

But, after two national titles in three years and entering a season where they are one of the prohibitive favorites to win it all again, is Clemson in danger of crossing that line from national darling to college football enemy?

Any talk of Clemson being able to repeat as champions begins with Trevor Lawrence. The expectations laid on the rising sophomore’s shoulders are almost unrealistic when you listen to what some people are predicting him to do, but having a game like he did in last year’s title game will do that to a player.

The Tigers lost a fair amount of talent from last year’s team, especially on the defensive side. However, with the talent they have coming back on the offensive side of the ball, and Bret Venables penchant for churning out top rated defensive regardless of who is on the field, I don’t expect them to struggle.

Clemson will have the most talent on the field in every game they’re currently scheduled to play, and it’s really not even that close.

Speaking of the talent gap between them and their opponents, have you seen their schedule? They’re likely to get more of a challenge during practice then they are against their opposition.

There are three games where they could possibly trip up, though. The first is Texas A&M at the beginning of the season, but the Aggies have to travel to Death Valley and I imagine Clemson will be ready.

The rivalry game against South Carolina is another one that can always be tricky, and it is in Columbia this year. Still, like the A&M game I can’t see the Tigers looking past it. Plus, they’ll have two weeks to prepare.

The one we’re I could see them losing is away at N.C. State. The Wolfpack are an underrated team that could give Clemson some trouble, especially if the Tigers haven’t been challenged up to that point. I wouldn’t be surprised if that game winds up being much closer than most pundits think.

Either way, everything is set up nicely for Clemson to make a run at their third national title in four years, turning them into the premier program in college football.

There’s a moment in the The Dark Knight when the character Harvey Dent states “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Clemson’s success doesn’t seem to be dying anytime soon; at what point does it live long enough to see them become the villain?

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