In the first of a two part series Seldom Used Reserve’s editor Marty Coleman and Recruiting Editor/Contributor Chris Cox rank the Tigers games from easiest to most difficult. The work was done independently without knowledge of how the other ranked these games. Today we feature games 12-7.
MC – Wofford: Once upon a time Wofford gave eventual 2011 ACC champion Clemson all they wanted. The teams have moved in different directions since that day and the 2015 Tigers are more talented up and down the roster than the 2011 group – which is saying something for a team that included Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Andre Ellington to name a few.
CC – Wofford: The Terriers are coming off back to back disappointing seasons, which saw them finish 5-6 (2013) and 6-5 (2014). The last time the Terriers ventured into Death Valley they gave the Tigers quite the scare. Back in 2011 Wofford actually led an uber-talented Clemson squad by a score of 24-21 in the 3rd quarter before the Tigers added two touchdowns on their way to a hard pressed 35-27 victory. You can be sure that Wofford will find some holes with the triple option against a new-look Clemson defense, but this is a game that the Tigers should light the scoreboard up. Outside of winning, the best thing that could come out of this game would be a clean medical bill.
CC – Appalachian State: The first thought that pops into the minds’ of Tiger fans is the colossal upset App State pulled off in the Big House. Believe it or not, that game took place nearly a decade ago, 8 years to be exact, and they don’t pose near the threat that they used to. During their first season as an FBS school the Mountaineers did compile a 7-5 record, which included a season ending 6-game win streak. One player to watch in this matchup is Junior RB Marcus Cox, who has compiled over 2600 yards in just two seasons for the Mountaineers. The Tigers will also have to be cautious not to look ahead to their first big test of the season at Louisville, which awaits just 5 days after this one.
MC – Appalachian State: I debated flip flopping 10 and 11, but ultimately left the Mountaineers at 11. App State won their last 6 of 2014 and will likely be on a 7 game winning streak when they enter Death Valley. But this ain’t the Sun Belt or the Big House circa 2007.
MC – Wake Forest: This game is scheduled the week before South Carolina for a reason, just like the Citadel was in previous seasons. The Deacons did give the Tigers a battle last season, but that was on the road, on a Thursday with the atmosphere of Groves Stadium.
CC – Wake Forest: Dave Clawson struggled during his first season in Winston-Salem, but I think anyone would have considering how bare the cupboard was. The Demon Deacons were forced to throw a freshman QB into the fire last season and he was protected by the nation’s worst offensive line, which allowed 48 total sacks. Given better protection, now sophomore QB John Wolford should have some success this season. He will likely be another one of those Wake Forest quarterbacks who never seem to graduate like Riley Skinner and Tanner Price, who each started all 4 years. Note: Cole Stoudt compiled 282 yards passing and 3 TDs against the Deacons who must replace 84 starts from their departing corners. Oh, and in case you didn’t know Clemson has Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, and Tay Scott. While Clemson did struggle last year on the road in front of a raucous Demon Deacon fan base I see this year’s game going quite smoothly for the fighting Dabo’s.
CC – Syracuse: “Soft-nosed” Scott Schaffer and his mighty Orangemen are coming off of yet another disappointing season. But at least they played Clemson close last year right? Moral victories! Shaffer will have his work cut out for him as the Orange have yet to find a proven playmaker on offense and the defense must find a way to replace 8 starters. Furthering the bad news, the beef between Dabo and Shaffer that has been well documented among the media has likely not been forgotten by the Clemson coaching staff. You can be assured that, if given the chance, the Tigers squeeze all the juice out of the Orange. The only hiccup could surround how the Tigers respond from the week before after having played FSU. Even if the Tigers drink all the beer in Clemson following the FSU game, they still have enough talent to sweat out a win in the non air-conditioned Carrier Dome.
MC – Syracuse: The Orange in the ACC for basketball is great. In football? Ugly. The Tigers will survive another trip to the loudest venue (hat tip Jimbo Fisher) in the ACC and Scott Shaffer’s “How to win friends and influence people” antics.
MC – Boston College – Boston College’s style of play lends itself to closer games, in general and if this was in Beantown it would be several notches higher. Clemson’s losses up front on defense could mean a big running day for the Eagles, but how do they keep up with the Tiger offense and the crowd in Death Valley? The answer is they don’t.
CC – Boston College – In just 2 seasons, Steve “Be A Dude” Addazio has reestablished the Eagles as the gritty, hard-nosed program they’ve been known for. (I’m a big Addazio fan FYI) Last season he used his ground and pound attack to bolster over 250 yards per game on the ground. Now for the bad news…gone is offensive coordinator Ryan Day, QB Tyler Murphy, and all 5 starting offensive lineman. While the Eagles return last season’s leading rusher Jon Hillman (860 yards, 13 TDs), he will have to rely on a completely new line to open up holes for him. However, if there’s anything we’ve learned about Boston College over the years is that: 1. They grow lineman on trees and 2. They always give Clemson fits. With that said, on paper Clemson is the far superior team and Deshaun Watson will get his first crack at them this year at home. At least the Eagles will get to fly into some warmer weather.
CC: – N.C. State – After a 41-0 drubbing at the hands of Clemson last season I’m not sure anyone from Raleigh wants to play the Tigers any time soon. The good news for the Pack is that Clemson will have to replace the majority of a defense that held them to a mere 154 total yards of offense and no points. Now for the bad, Deshaun Watson is back after totaling 4 touchdowns in the first 20 minutes of last year’s contest. The Wolfpack do return a solid one-two punch in QB Jacoby Brissett and RB Shadrach Thornton. Brissett’s name has been tossed around as a dark-horse ACC POY candidate, but he’s going to have to fair better than the 4 of 18 performance he displayed against Clemson if he wants to do so. Carter-Finley stadium has been a house of nightmares for the Tigers over the years, but this game isn’t on a Thursday so I feel much better.
MC: – N.C. State – The Pack is here by default and because this game is in Raleigh and the talent of the teams above them. Others think more of the Pack than I, but I can’t get the memory of Jacoby Brissett’s 4/18 day last year in Death Valley out of my mind. Brissett will be better, because it’s hard to be worse and the Clemson defense will take a half step back. The Pack appears to be improving, but there’s a gap between Florida State, Clemson and the rest of the Atlantic.
The easiest 6 games of the season were the same for both, but I wouldn’t count on that happening in part 2.
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