Finally the Clemson Tigers came out and played the type of game that we all thought they were capable of playing.
The offense clicked, the defense hit, and the special teams weren't a liability.
Now comes the tricky part.
This Saturday, the Tigers will make the 120 mile trek down I-85 to Atlanta to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
I admit it, I was one of the prognosticators that said before the season that this would be a game that Clemson should win. Although I was firm in the fact that it wouldn't be a blowout, I still believed that the Tigers would enter this game as a favorite.
After watching the Yellow Jackets dismantle Auburn, and basically shutdown Florida State on the road this past weekend, I have "officially" have my doubts.
What Tech head coach Chan Gailey has been able to accomplish this season after having seemingly losing half of his team to suspensions or injury is borderline incredible.
Tech held Florida State to a mere 26 yards of total offense in the first half Saturday evening en route to a 13-0 4th quarter lead.
"We looked the 17th ranked team in the nation square in the eye and the 10th ranked team in the nation square in the eye and came out 1-1," said Gailey. "We feel like we can play at that level. We have to have that same kind of intensity this week against Clemson, and every week we walk out there."
The thing is, the score wasn't indicative of how much better Tech was playing than Florida State. In fact, I'm still amazed that the Seminoles somehow came back and won that game in the final minutes.
|True freshman quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 35-of-69 passes for 412 yards, 1 TD, and 2 Interceptions in his first 3 career starts.|
However, the final score of Tech's loss to Florida State may prove to be one of the most instrumental aspects to Saturday's game against the Tigers.
After all, Florida State didn't even earn a first down in the first half Saturday night. Their only advancement of the football came on a defensive holding penalty.
The aftermath of incurring such a stunning defeat while dominating 95% of the game can be hard to overcome.
As we all know, losing a heartbreaking road game like that can make for a tough week of practice, and a tough go of it the next time that particular team hits the field. It's just human nature to be down after suffering through a dramatic loss.
On the flip side, this game carries the utmost importance for the Clemson Tigers, who are still in somewhat of a fragile state themselves.
A win would give the team another shot of confidence heading into an off week before traveling up to College Park, Maryland to take on the Terrapins.
A loss would be devastating.
A quick a look at the ACC would suggest that Clemson would likely only be favored in two more games this season should they lose this weekend to Georgia Tech.
Let's face it, if the Tigers plan on going to any type of bowl game this year, this is the sort of game they simply have to win.
The Tech defense appears to be tough, but there are weaknesses.
The Yellow Jackets are 2nd in the conference in total defense, behind Florida State, giving up a mere 281 yards per game. However, Tech has been susceptible to passing game, giving up 626 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air in their first 3 games of the 2003 season.
Makes you wonder about the game plan this week doesn't it? (Hint, hint- check out what happened this past weekend against MTSU.)
Surely, the Tigers would be better served attacking the Yellow Jackets' secondary as opposed to trying to run the ball on a unit that's only giving up 72 yards a game. (which is tops in the conference and 16th nationally)
Sure, the offensive line is improving and Kyle Browning and Duane Coleman were able to make a couple of big plays against MTSU, but the strength of this team still lies with its quarterback and wide receivers.
Without question, Georgia Tech is firmly entrenched as the next major obstacle on the schedule. The Tigers will once again need to be clicking on all cylinders if they expect to emerge from this game with a victory.
If anything, this rivalry suggests that this will be another closely contested, heated battle that comes down to which team has the ball last, or which team makes the fewest mistakes in the 4th quarter.
In what will likely be another pressure packed contest for both teams, the fate of two football programs will ultimately hang in the balance.