Hey...A Win is a Win

It's hard to understand Saturday's come from behind win over Wake Forest. Even though the oddsmakers had initially pegged the Tigers as 10-point favorites, the Deacons came into Death Valley with impressive road wins over both Purdue and Georgia Tech. Believe it or not, Clemson beat a good football team Saturday.

And perhaps that's the statement that most Clemson fans have trouble digesting the morning after a narrow homecoming win over the Demon Deacons.

After all, Clemson owned a 52-14-1 record against Wake Forest entering Saturday's contest, and those 52 wins still doesn't do justice to the Tigers' overall domination in the series.

So let's think about it for a moment. Why would the Tigers struggle with the same team they've dominated for years, especially coming off of two gut wrenching conference losses to Florida State and Virginia?

I'll tell you why- because Wake Forest, and the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference for that matter, is vastly improved. Gone are days of sleepwalking through what most perceive to be the lower echelon of the ACC. Gone are the conference games against teams that would be better served playing in the MAC or Conference USA.

Yes, even Wake Forest has now emerged on the college football radar as a team to be reckoned with, and if the rest of conference hasn't taken notice yet, they should now.

The Deacons rang up a mind-boggling 523 yards of total offense Saturday afternoon against the nation's 10th ranked defensive unit, and most of that damage come on the ground. Head coach Jim Grobe came into Death Valley with an impressive game plan, and his team for the most part, executed it to perfection.

Unfortunately for Wake Forest, five second half turnovers and a dropped pass by wide receiver Jason Anderson midway through the 4th quarter would pave the way for the Tigers' furious second half rally.

"This is the first game this season where we haven't taken care of the ball offensively," said Grobe in reference to that dropped pass and the barrage of turnovers. "Then defensively, we should have forced a couple of turnovers, but we just didn't get the ball to bounce our way today."

I've got news for you Jim, the Tigers haven't had a bounce their way in about two seasons. Lady luck was long overdue if you've persevered through the last two years as a Clemson fan. I know it, Tiger fans know it, and Tommy Bowden knows it.

"There's nothing you can say that's going to take this smile off my face," Bowden said in his post game press conference. "A win is a win. We'd lost two in a row and we needed a win and I don't care how we got it, we got it and I'm going to be happy about it."

"Our guys really never quit. I never heard anyone complaining or moaning from the defense when we were struggling on offense. They just kept getting us the ball and we finally got the 31 points to hold them off," Bowden added.

While the win may not go down as "one for the books," it's still a win, and in the grand scheme of things, it continues to give the Tigers' a chance at an extremely successful season.

Don't fool yourself; Wake Forest is a tough, hard-nosed football team. And even if the Tigers didn't come out of the gates as world-beaters Saturday afternoon, they came through with big play after big play when the game was on the line.

For the first time in a long time, the Tigers actually found a way to win a game when they were clearly outplayed by the other team. Folks, that hasn't happened in an awfully long time. It wasn't pretty, but I simply don't care. All the matters is the Tigers got the win.

Sure, I have questions about the play calling, about the special teams, and about the sheer motivation of the team from week to week just like anybody else. But one thing remains crystal clear to me today.

A win is a win, and no matter how many different ways you look at it, the Tigers came away the better team Saturday, and that's all the matters.

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