Clemson Now Has a Target on Its Back
Wayne Root: Clemson Now Has a Target on Its Back!
The first set of College Football Playoff Rankings were just released. And, it's the Clemson Tigers who sit on the top spot...ahead of LSU, Ohio State, Alabama, and other hopefuls for the Final Four.
What a time to get a target on your back! Clemson hosts Florida State (#16 in the CFPR and #17 in the AP poll) Saturday at 3:30 p.m ET. Though, that might strike you as a real danger spot for the Tigers...Vegas oddsmakers have made Clemson a stunning 12-point favorite.
That's a reflection of how impressive Clemson has been in recent action. That's also an indictment of how unimpressive Florida State has been so far.
You can see some of that difference in results vs. four common opponents. FSU's only bright spot in that comparison is a 41-21 win over Louisville. Clemson struggled with the Cards early this season with a 20-17 survival. Results vs. Boston College were fairly similar....with both winning in the 14-17 point range. But...more recently...
*Clemson beat Miami 58-0 (!!) while FSU could only win 29-24
*Clemson beat Georgia Tech 43-24, while FSU lost 22-16 in a wild finish
Clemson has really caught fire in a way that's impressed everyone. Florida State is suddenly just a spoiler after winning a National Championship two years ago and reaching the Final Four last season. The Seminoles just struggled with two teams Clemson blew past.
You know WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is the KING OF UPSETS. Will I be calling for an upset with Florida State this week? Well, I had a PINNACLE play on Georgia Tech over FSU...so I've won fading the Seminoles. Is it time to ask for a statement performance from the dog?
In favor of that approach...
*Clemson is about to deal with the pressure of being #1. They've been chasing that kind of respectability seemingly forever. Yes, they usually have a very nice team. And, they can earn blowout bowl wins over opponents that aren't particularly fired up. But...NOW...they're being discussed in the same breath as Ohio State and Alabama. Now, instead of being the weak ACC sister of Florida State...they're favored by a dozen over Florida State. Pressure causes mistakes...particularly for teams who are new to this kind of pressure.
*Clemson will spend this week reading press clippings about how great they've become. That's usually a bad sign instead of a good one.
*Florida State will spend the week reading press clippings about how great Clemson has become! That should fire up this group of Seminoles who are disappointed about not living up to the promise of the last few seasons.
In many ways, this is a classic WAYNE ROOT spot. Call for the upset with a talented underdog with something to prove....over a favorite who's about to be challenged in a way they're not familiar with.
I have to admit though...it may be better to WAIT and fade Clemson later.
*Clemson has plenty of REVENGE in this series. They were humiliated on this field two seasons ago...when everyone (particularly ABC) was sure they were going to have a statement performance. They may hate FSU so much that they overcome intangible obstacles this week only to fall pretty to them the following week on the road at Syracuse. Or, in the ACC Championship game if they're still undefeated. That target will stay on Clemson's back for awhile if they impress Saturday.
*Florida State doesn't strike me as a team you can trust when they fall behind. Remember how the Oregon game got away from them last season in the playoffs. Sure, that was with a different quarterback. But, the overall mindset and approach with the NEW quarterback options are volatile. They'll try to force things in a way that will play right into Clemson's hands.
I do think Clemson's going to stub their toe in a way that at least threatens a straight up loss between now and the postseason. You'll have to be a paying customer to find out if that's this week.
Other possible "live dog" scenarios in big games Saturday...
LSU is getting 6.5 in the SEC West "Game of the Year" Saturday night
Oklahoma State is getting 5 in a possible statement making home dog spot vs. TCU
Duke is getting 8 in a rivalry spot against North Carolina in the ACC Coastal
Pittsburgh is getting 8 at home from a Notre Dame team that just had to sweat Temple
Cincinnati is getting 8 from a Houston team that's been getting great press lately
You know I like dogs who can score points! There are some dogs who can score points this week in some very interesting positions on the schedule.
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