Rhymer's 5 Worst Picks Of 2003

I was a meager 8-5 on the year picking our beloved Clemson Tigers, which was a step down from last year's 10-3 record. To my defense, Clemson was an underdog in 9 games this year so picking the Tigers to win was somewhat of a bigger challenge than in year's past.

Therefore, I am going to call the 2003 season my rebuilding year and I expect to improve on that record in 2004!

I had some good weeks, and I had some bad weeks. The greatest thing a writer that predicts games can do (other than picking them correctly) is humbly admit when he was wrong. And that is exactly what I am doing here with my 5 Worst picks of the 2003 football season.

Stay tuned because tomorrow I'll have my 5 Best picks from 2003 so I don't look like a complete fool!

Worst Pick #5-Florida State at Clemson
Rhymer's Prediction From November 6th:
This game has all the makings of a freak show. Despite what many people think is a distraction to the team with all the coaching rumors this week, I think it plays perfectly into the psyche of this team.

I think Clemson will come out and pop Florida State in the face and knock the Seminoles on their heels. It would not shock me to see Clemson go up as much as two scores early in the ball game.

Florida State will wake up, respond, and make a run. How Clemson handles that run will decide the outcome of this game. There is a very big part of me that thinks Clemson is going to win this game. But, after sitting through that debacle in Winston Salem, I can't make myself predict a Clemson win…at least publicly.

Rhymer's Pick
Florida State 31 Clemson 21

Comments: To my credit, I did foresee the possibility of Clemson winning this game, but I left my guts in Winston Salem the week before and could not make myself pick Clemson. On the Tiger Pregame Show, I came oh so close to changing my pick and taking the Tigers. I had promised myself at the beginning of the year that whatever I wrote in the article I would stick with on the show. Otherwise, I would have changed my pick at the last minute on the show. To Aly's credit, she picked the Tigers by 14 points. Roy and I were wrong and Aly was right…at least on this great day.

Worst Pick #4-Clemson at Georgia Tech
Rhymer's Prediction From September 18th:
The question I keep asking myself is; "Can Clemson move the ball with a controlled passing game against Tech?". IF the answer to that question is yes, then the Tigers have a real shot of winning this game.

This game sets up mentally in Clemson's favor, since the Yellow Jackets are coming off a heartbreaking loss to FSU. I don't think that will matter Saturday.

Hence, my prediction. It would not shock me, or the world, if Clemson wins Saturday night. However, I think Georgia Tech goes home smiling.

Rhymer's Prediction
Georgia Tech 20 Clemson 17

Comments: Again, I was hitting it right on the head with the controlled passing game and the mental part being in Clemson's favor. But, once again, I can't pull the trigger on picking the Tigers. What's worse is that not only did Tech not win the game, but Clemson crushed the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. It took me a while to live down this mis-pick on the board in the following weeks!

Worst Pick #3-Clemson at Wake Forest
Rhymer's Prediction From October 30th:
This is a Halloween time spooky game for Clemson. Wake Forest owes Clemson for the past 2 years when Clemson slipped away from eminent defeat against the Deacons.

Wake's strength on offense is running the ball, something Clemson has done well defending sans last week against the Tar Heels.

And finally, Clemson is playing pretty good football. The Tigers obviously have not been perfect, but they have been solid most weeks and improvement has happened almost weekly. This won't be easy at all, but Clemson will survive the Wake Forest season-killing trap Saturday afternoon.

Rhymer's Pick
Clemson 27 Wake Forest 24

Comments: The third example in a row where I should have listened to myself better! The reality of this game was right in front of me with the revenge factor for the Deacons and their strength in running the ball. Remember, this was the week after UNC had some success running the ball against us and we had yet to make any adjustments. Even if I had picked Wake, it would only have been by 3 or 4 points. I NEVER in a million years envisioned the situation that I would watch from the sidelines in Winston-Salem.

I was right on one thing, Clemson would survive the season-killing trap. But that resurrection would not come until the next week versus FSU.

Worst Pick #2-Georgia at Clemson
Rhymer's Prediction From August 29th:
There are a lot of reasons why I could pick Georgia to win, but there are more reasons why I can pick Clemson. I don't think this game will be as high scoring as some might think, and I also think this game comes down to a big play on special teams. I have a good feeling about this one, and we are going to be happy Saturday night.

Rhymer's Prediction
Clemson 24 Georgia 20

Comments: I was right on one hand about it not being a high scoring game. Clemson scored zip. The reason this is the #2 worst pick was because I really, really, really believed we were going to win this one. I'm not sure that came across in the article after re-reading it, but I did feel good. In my defense, picking the 1st game of the season against a team as good as UGA is a tough task to say the least. The only reason this was not my worst pick of the year was because it WAS the 1st game of the season and a tougher cookie to crack than the games I missed later in the season.

In the end, I was as shocked about the UGA outcome as any game of the year minus Wake Forest.

Worst Pick #1-Clemson at N.C. State
Rhymer's Prediction From October 14th:
State is teetering on the verge of imploding under the weight of their self-imposed expectations at the beginning of the year.

State is so bad on defense that it will put a tremendous amount of pressure on their offense to keep pace Thursday night. The Wolfpack have struggled scoring against good defenses, and I just don't think they can put 30+ points on the board Thursday night without turnovers or special teams disasters by Clemson. In fact, I think the Tigers will seize a couple of turnovers on the Pack that will make Clemson fans sleep well Thursday night.

In most football games, the better defense wins the game. Last year, State had the better defense. This year, Clemson does.

Rhymer's Pick
Clemson 31 N.C. State 27

Comments: What makes this my worst prediction of the year was not that N.C. State won the game. It was because my thoughts on them turned out to be so wrong. State played an inspired, if imperfect, game against Clemson. The State defense proved to be pretty darn solid, holding Clemson to 15 points after I slammed them relentlessly in the days leading up to the game. And finally, I had thought Clemson had the better defense. At the end of the year, that would be a correct statement. But, on that Thursday night, State's defense played above their head and was better than Clemson.

I must have still been high from the overtime victory over Virginia because my tone was disrespectful to an N.C. State team that had handed us our butts in Death Valley the year before. In a lot of ways, the loss in Raleigh was just as frustrating as the blowout in Clemson the year before…which I had picked as a Clemson win too!

Stay tuned tomorrow for my 5 Best Picks of the 2003 football season.

Scott can be reached at scottrhymer@msn.com.

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