Clemson Wins ACC Atlantic
Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC Tags:
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"Finally." That was the word going around the tailgate areas outside of Clemson's Memorial Stadium Saturday night. The Tigers finally won their ACC division, the Atlantic, and will be heading to Tampa for a rematch with Georgia Tech. The game itself against UVA was nothing to get real excited about. But there was a very fun secen at the stadium, anyway, as the Tiger seniors were on display for the final time, and CJ Spiller received an awesome send off from the ever grateful Tiger faithful.
For some reason - even with a 34-21 score - I will always remember this game as kind of a boring one football-wise. There were no long runs, no huge pass plays and no kick returns for scores. A long field goal was missed, and, as usual, the refs made a couple of outrageously bad calls. But despite the "boringness" of this game, the end of the game was the complete oppsosite.
As the game got deep into the fourth quarter, Clemson was fortunate to have a handful of timeouts and a couple of tv breaks. They used those times to let the crowd pay a standing ovation to the Tiger seniors, and to sing Dabo Swinney a 40th birthday song. It was a time in Death Valley that hasn't been witnessed in a long time. It was a celebration: An actual trophy had been won. No, the ACC Atlantic trophy isn't exactly on parallel with a Green Jacket, a World Series ring, or a Stanley Cup. But it will go down in history that in 2009, Clemson was the best team in this half of the conference this year, and they now play for a bigger trophy.
So what now for Clemson? Well, it will be tough, and it starts in six days. The South Carolina Gamecocks will have had two weeks to regroup and get ready for Clemson, and then they face Georgia Tech - a squad that has already beaten them.
For the Gamecocks, people in Columbia are calling this Steve Spurrier's ultimatum game. Win, and the Gamecocks can feel positive about keeping him around for 2010 and beyond. Lose, and USC may say they have had enough of the Ole Ball Coach. He is 1-3 agaisnt Clemson, and he probably doesn't need to be reminded of that. You can bet your house that Spurrier and company are going to lay it all on the line to knock off Clemson's season that is getting better weekly. A win here would boost the Gamecock program beyond words. A loss would be devastating.
Then the Tigers will face a Georgia Tech team that they slugged it out with in week two. Clemson stormed back from 21-0 to take a 24-21 lead in that game, but later lost in the final minutes. Clemson had many opportunites to win that game, and will be drooling when they reach the tunnel in Tampa. Clemson has unfinished business with GT, and have hoped for weeks now for this rematch.
Finally, there is the bowl game. Whether it is a BCS bowl or not, it will come against a quality opponent. So therefore, the next three games for the Tigers will be tough. South Carolina. Georgia Tech. Bowl.
If they are to lose the next three games, people will quickly forget the good feeling of walking out of Death Valley on such a high note the last few times we have strolled out. And trust me, the Tigers are very capable of losing to all three teams they are about to face. South Carolina is dangerous after playing a tough slate, and if Garcia is on, we will have problems. And Georgia Tech hasn't won ten games already for no reason.
But I think the Tigers will win in these last games. I'm not saying they will go 3-0, but I would be disappointed if they didn't go 2-1 to finish 10-4 for the season. Which games will be wins and which game will be the loss? I don't know. I just know that when you play three tough games at the end of the year, winning two of them is pretty good and not a bad bet. I think we could win all three, but that will be tough.
This is the most stressful week of the year if you are a Clemson fan. No matter if we are 2-8 or 8-2, or if USC is 2-8 or 8-2, this game is always one that makes me not be able to sleep at night. Yes, I know we have a good team this year. I love our team chemistry, defensive physicality and offensive big-play ability. But South Carolina will have a rowdy crowd on their side Saturday, and they have some good players on both sides of the ball. Anything in college football can happen.....
This week will be a stress-fest.......stay tuned!
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