So my favorite part of the “Clemson is Going to Beat the Mess out of Notre Dame” is that I don’t buy it. I wouldn’t buy it if it were listed at $0.00 and I were playing the Bargain Game on The Price is Right. Here’s why: Clemson is getting way too much credit for running the table on a schedule that makes the inter-hall football small dorm schedule look like a damn murderers’ row. After a week in which we here at HerLoyalSonsdotcom rolled out the old timers for your listening enjoyment, let’s get down to some real football analysis.
Unfortunately Jude left some time ago and Tex is busy, so you’re stuck with me. In this piece, I want to look at a couple of things that are making me feel pretty good about the Cotton Bowl game. First, it’s being played in a dome, so we won’t be contending with hurricane-force winds and rain, which we did when we played Clemson in Death Valley but not in the Death Valley in Baton Rouge. Second, it’s being played at 4:00 p.m. EST, so we can get a nice nap in before kickoff and have plenty o’ energy for the ‘Bama game later in the evening.
Clemson gets a huge amount of boost from its insanely productive rushing attack. Clemson is averaging — AVERAGING — SIX POINT SEVEN FIVE YARDS PER CARRY. That’s a lunatic amount of yards per carry and means, for you Arts and Letters majors out there, that Clemson will put themselves in very favorable gain situations, wear the opposing D-line down fast, and make you load up the box to even have a chance. When you do that, their freshman quarterback, who stands 8’7″ with flowing locks of gold and has a quicker release than Meg Ryan’s character in Harry Met Sally, will flense your secondary like a Japanese “scientist” on an Arctic cruise.
Now, Clemson does have, legitimately, a very good offensive line and a good stable of backs to move the ball between them. That’s the problem we face on the 29th. But if you’re impressed by their gaudy stats, let’s deflate that balloon a little bit. Here’s one talking-point: Clemson ran for 492 yards on 33 carries against Louisville. That’s an average of 13.3 yards per carry. Read that again. That’s an average of 13.3 yards per carry. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Louisville’s defensive “coordinator” was none other than the Scribe of the Simple System, Brian “I put the Gore in Gory Defensive Play” VanGorder. Clemson also hung 471 rushing yards on Wake Forest, so there’s that.
When Clemson played a legit rush defense, such as therefor the Iraq, or Texas A&M, or Boston College, or North Carolina State, they became mortal. Against TA&M, they ran for 115. Against North Carolina State, just 91. Against BC, 129. Point is, Clemson’s running game is not all-conquering.
Look, when you analyze Clemson, it’s hard to find flaws. They have one in the secondary, and it’s one that aligns perfectly with ND’s strength, but you don’t get into the CFP as a one-dimensional team, unless you’re Oklahoma.