Colin Cowherd has learned a lot about the word fraud as of late. Don’t worry Colin, I am not out to embarrass you anymore. I will even agree with you and say that the Clemson Tigers were frauds after all. Moving into the College Football Playoffs, not a single media outlet outside the state of South Carolina was giving the Tigers a fighting chance against unstoppable offense of Ohio State. Even if the Tigers somehow snuck past the Buckeyes, scoring points on a defense so massive and fierce like the one Alabama was fielding would be impossible.
Clemson moved throughout the season with a what seemed to be a lack of motivation or sense of urgency. After close calls against Auburn and Troy, surely they wouldn’t go to Bobby Dodd Stadium and beat Paul Johnson’s crew. Even with a win against Georgia Tech, could Deshaun Watson find his mojo and outduel the already proclaimed Heisman Winner Lamar Jackson? Louisville just beat Florida State by 600 points or something close to it.
Watching the discovery channel when I was a kid, I noticed one thing in particular about tigers in the wild. They would often lay waiting in the brush for the perfect moment to strike at their prey. Much like the tigers on the Discovery Channel, the Tigers on ESPN seemed to be doing just that. While we can all agree, Clemson did not play its best football until the second half of the season, we can all also agree that the Clemson Tigers are the undisputed National Champions.
The Tigers may have been frauds for the first part of the season, sure, but the Clemson Tigers that pounced J.T Barrett and the Buckeyes weren’t frauds at all. That same Clemson team then marched into Tampa for a battle against Football Genius Nick Saban and his Rolling Tide. Once the dust settled and the thundering herd of oversized mammals had been reduced to mere circus animals, the fraudulent Tigers were once again National Champions.
It wasn’t a surprise to some of us but for the most part, College Football Nation was stunned at what they witnessed. Several factors played into the shock and awe of the National Championship Game and uncovering the truth the national media hides away will provide the light needed to ease the sting of the Tigers comeback.
The ACC, from top to bottom, was a better conference than both the SEC and B1G. Believe it or not, it is actually fact. According to early rankings and polls, the SEC and B1G were lightyears ahead of everyone else and the eventual National Champion would almost certainly be Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan. Not counting games against the FCS, the ACC was 37-16 against non-conference opponents for a winning percentage of 69.8%. The SEC and B1G were 35-19 (64.8%) and 29-15 (65.9%) respectively.
I guess the National Media also forgot the ACC had the best two quarterbacks in the nation, the Heisman winner and the best player in the nation, seven top 25 defenses (the most of any conference), the eventual coach of the year, and the eventual Broyles Award winner. The ACC deserves it share of the spotlight this offseason and wins against Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State prove that.
Using opponents win percentage when not playing you, Clemson’s opponents won 68% of their games which translates to the highest winning percentage in College Football. Clemson won 6 games against the final AP Top 25. Only Alabama had as many wins against the Top 25 however, the Tide had only 2 wins against a Top 10 Program. Clemson ended the season with wins against the eventual #2, #6, and #8 teams in the country.
The National Champions were also the most balanced team in the country. The Tigers finished in the Top 15 in Total Offense & Defense, Scoring Offense and Defense, as well as Third Down Defense and Offense. No other team finished in the Top 20 of each Category and only Ohio State finished in the Top 25 of 5 out of the 6 categories.
Most pundits argued that the Tigers turned the ball over too much and that very stat would leave the Tigers helpless against Ohio State or Alabama. Clemson faced nine teams that finished in the Top 50 of Turnover Margin. Against those nine teams, Clemson won every single game. Yes, Clemson lost to Pittsburgh, the same team that took down Penn State at the beginning of the year.
Through the year, the Clemson Tigers didn’t win pretty all the time and the loss at home was awful. That loss refocused the team and the Tigers outscored their opponents 199-85 over the last 5 games. Only one of those games were at home, three were on a neutral field, and two were games as an underdog. Clemson also shutout Ohio State in the playoffs. This was the first time the Buckeyes have been shutout since 1993 against Michigan and the first time an Urban Meyer coached team had ever been shutout.
Should the Tigers have lost several games before the season’s end? No. Could they have, yes! Looking back to Auburn’s National Championship in 2010, the Auburn Tigers played seven games that ended with a one possession win. Clemson took that Auburn team to OT and if it hadn’t of been for a false start on a field goal with 3 seconds left in the fourth quarter of that game, Auburn wouldn’t have made the National Championship Game. Did you forget about the Field Goal Attempt returned for a Touchdown that year against Alabama? Both Kentucky and South Carolina pushed the Tigers to the brink of extinction that year.
It may not have been the prettiest season in Clemson history but it will go down as the greatest. For the first time in school history, Clemson defeated an AP #2 team and then followed it up and beat the AP #1 team. Regardless of how it looked, Clemson proved the only frauds were those in the media who wrote articles with half facts and very little knowledge of College Football.