A Long Over Due Look Back
So now that the Christmas trees are down, the New Year’s ball has dropped and everyone has begrudgingly gotten back into the swing of that thing called work, the stage is set for the 2016 College Football National Championship game between Clemson and Alabama. And for the sake of the ACC conference’s post season reputation as a whole in 2015, thank goodness Clemson beat favored Oklahoma to gain a spot playing for all the marbles.
Allow me to be transparent and painfully blunt: the ACC kinda sucked this bowl season. Yes, Virginia Tech sent Frank Beamer out as a winner as they hammered a hapless Tulsa team. Kudos to the Hokies on their win. Also deserving of props would be Duke who edged out a pesky Indiana team and Louisville, who rallied behind an amazing performance by true freshman QB Lamar Jackson to defeat SEC West member Texas A.M.
BUT, as for the rest of the ACC’s performance this past bowl season?
And here is how the dominos of negative on field performances fell: Miami continued to disappoint all those that watched them this past season by getting beat by a less talented Washington State squad. Pittsburgh capped off another lackluster year by virtually laying an egg against Navy (all due respect, the Midshipmen were not too shabby) in route to losing by more than two touchdowns. North Carolina proved yet again that deciding to play virtually no defense for 60 minutes will inevitably always lead to defeat by falling to Baylor by double digits. NC State was simply outmatched against their SEC West opponent, Mississippi State, and ended up getting hammered by 23 points. And lastly, and perhaps most disappointing, Florida State never got on track against Houson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl In lieu of losing starting QB Everett Golson before the game and lost decidedly.
In a nutshell, it’s been hard to talk much smack the last few weeks if you are an ACC Football backer. Clemson can somewhat right the ship, however, by beating Alabama next Monday. It kinda reminds me of the scene from Star Wars when early in the film R2-D2 plays a video for Skywalker & Kenobi that states “Save us Obi Wan, you’re our only hope.” In this instance, ACC fans should be looking to the Tigers and thinking, “Win this game Clemson, you’re all we have left to protect us from epic SEC trash talk until September.” Question is, can Dabo & Co. actually pull it off? I watched Clemson in person earlier in the 2015 regular season when they dodged OT at Louisville thanks in part to a short missed FG by the Cards late in the 4th quarter. Thus by comparative ways, one might say that Clemson would have little chance against Bama. But after watching the Tigers take down Boomer Sooner and the likes of Notre Dame and FSU, I think they have a great shit at keeping the national title trophy in the ACC. Deshaun Watson’s ability to make plays with his feet & Clemson’s stout defensive line might be enough to put them over the top.
Beating the likes of the Crimson Todd won’t be easy regardless. I would expect Nick Saban to have his team meticulously prepared and it’s no secret that Heisman award winner Derrick Henry is a beast. For entertainment sake, I hope the game is nip and tuck. Unable to ever hide my homeristic nature, I’m going…..
Clemson 27 Alabama 23
Before ending, I did want to throw in my two cents about Louisville, the school I normally and primarily cover and blog about. I came away really satisfied with the Cards win over A&M in the Music City Bowl. And frankly, I don’t give a damn if UofL’s victory came at the hands of the Aggies’ 10th string quarterback – a win is a win, particularly in the post season. Lamar Jackson had the performance of a lifetime, good enough to make me wish I was already tailgating at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the 2016 season opener. And now knowing that the core of the Cards defense is all coming back to school (most notably Devonte Fields & Keith Kelsey), my expectations are pretty damn high. 18 out of 22 starters return for UofL and next season’s schedule is much more manageable than the one that just ended over a month ago. The key for UofL will be finishing off what looks to be a top 20-25 nationally ranked recruiting class. With Bobby Petrino returning 99% of his offensive starters, I especially like the odds of the Cards scoring points like a pinball machine in 2016. For now, Card Nation must impatiently wait, but at least there’s a lot to wait for.