A Long Time Coming
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With a 26-19 win over Auburn Saturday night from the Georgia Dome, Clemson finally gets some respect back for themselves and their league. I realize as I write this that bigger wins have gone down in the history of college football. No title was won here, and honestly, it wasn't even the biggest game on TV at the time. That honor would have to go to Alabama-Michigan over on ABC. But Clemson's win over Auburn was one that had a tremendous amount of importance for a group of people known as Clemson fans - a group I happen to belong to.
Over the last 10 years or so, it has not been easy to be a fan of the ACC, or - at many times - of Clemson. While wins were plentiful, big wins were not. And out-of conference big wins have been even more elusive during this stretch for the Tigers and the conference. Time and again, Clemson and their ACC brethren have found themselves in high-profile games, only to be knocked into place by better teams - usually from the neighboring Southeastern Conference.
It has been a lot to listen to on talk radio and difficult to read on the web. This win is one step in the right direction of getting away from being the butt of those jokes.
I also know that one win doesn't change years and years of mediocrity by the ACC, or by Clemson - in these types of games - for that matter. But a win last night over a traditional power from the SEC, in a game away from the comfort of home, on national TV, is a huge breath of fresh air and a huge relief. Auburn may not be the Auburn of 2010, but they aren't a sludge, either. They will win more than they will lose over there in that conference that dominates the country.
But this isn't about Auburn. This article is about Clemson and the ACC. Both have performed poorly in OOC games over the last decade, and until that changes the league will continue to be a non-factor in the national picture. This win by Clemson needs to be a springboard for other teams in the conference to do the same as the year goes by. There are 21 more OOC regular season games set to go down for the league in 2012 against foes from other major conferences, and Notre Dame. NC State lost to Tennessee Friday night in the first OOC game of the year for the ACC.
I was up late enjoying this victory - a victory that keeps CU unbeaten as two winnable games at home in the coming two weeks offer a break (Ball State and Furman). Sept 22 in Tallahassee is the next hurdle for Clemson on the way back to the ACCCG in Charlotte. The Seminoles of Florida State should be unbeaten as they face Savannah State and then Wake Forest prior to the matchup at Doak Campbell Stadium. A top ten meeting is on the way.
Needless to say, I now have that day circled and a countdown is on. A monkey - even if a small monkey, like a marmoset - has been lifted off the backs of Clemson and the ACC.
Clemson's work is just beginning, and I think Dabo and crew are aware of that. This one victory does nothing for your next game except help your confidence. The next oppponent couldn't care less that you just won a high-profile game, and looking at the schedule, I count six teams that worry me as CU works towards an unbeaten season. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, NC State and South Carolina still sit ahead, as well as an always, always tricky game at Wake Forest on a Thursday night.....
Again, I have all the respect in the world for Auburn, and that is what makes this W so satisfying. Mark my words, Auburn will once again finished ranked high and collect some nice wins along the way. They have serious players and are a young team that will improve week to week.
I am off to work on the top 25 for week two now. It is a relief to finally, finally show up on a big stage and do what it takes to win. What a relief.
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