COMMENTARY

No ifs, ands or buts; Clemson easily best team, hands down

From staff reports
Posted 1/9/19

It doesn't matter the conference in which Clemson plays football, how weak its schedule is or anything else of the sort. The Tigers are hands down the best team in college football for the 2018 season.

The beatdown Clemson laid on defending …

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COMMENTARY

No ifs, ands or buts; Clemson easily best team, hands down

Posted

It doesn't matter the conference in which Clemson plays football, how weak its schedule is or anything else of the sort. The Tigers are hands down the best team in college football for the 2018 season.

The beatdown Clemson laid on defending national champion Alabama on Monday in suburban San Francisco is one that will be remembered forever by the Tiger faithful. Simply put, Clemson dominated the contest on both sides of the football, especially over the final 2 quarters.

The Crimson Tide hung in with the Tigers - that's a funny statement since most people thought Clemson would be lucky to hang in with 'Bama through the first half - until midway through the second quarter. However, when the Tigers limited the Tide to a field goal when it had a first down and goal, that turned the momentum.

The Clemson offense then kicked into high gear, and the vaunted Alabama offense simply could not keep up. Not even close.

And the main reason the Tigers were able to dominate the Tide is they weren't afraid of the moment in which they found themselves. They had been there before and they weren't intimidated or in awe of the mystique of Alabama.

Of course, this was 'Bama-Clemson IV, with the first two being for the national title and last year being in a semifinal game. The two title games were back-and-forth contests the teams split, and while Alabama was clearly the better team last year, Clemson was more than in the contest until early in the third quarter.

While most people say that Alabama head coach Nick Saban is deadly when given a month to prepare for a game, Tiger defensive coordinator Brent Venables is at his best preparing on a regular schedule. While the offensive numbers weren't much different between the teams, the Tigers certainly shut down Alabama after getting a feel for what they were doing.

Venables made the adjustments he needed to make, and the Clemson offense slowly got into its groove. True freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence did throw 12 incompletions - 20 for 32 for 347 yards and two touchdowns - but half of those came in the first few drives. After that, he was on the money, as he has been pretty much since Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney named him the starter over since-transferred Kelly Bryant.

That move, more than any other, is the reason the Tigers are the national champion. It is certainly the reason they were able to continue to pour it on roll over the Tide.

In all honesty, Swinney caught more flak from across the country than he did from the Clemson fan base with the move. After watching Lawrence in the spring game, many thought it was just a matter of time before he took over.

Swinney has matured into a tremendous college football coach. He had the moniker of being the head cheerleader when he first took over the program, but Swinney has done nothing but build the Clemson brand into one that compares favorably with Alabama and is arguably above all others.

Is Dabo one of the great Xs and Os coaches? No, and I think he would agree with that. However, he knows more than enough football, and he knows how to hold a coaching staff together, and he has built a culture at Clemson that is second to none.

Don't expect Clemson to be going anywhere any time soon.