Clemson Tigers Football: Return to Prominence

Kevin ThomasContributor IISeptember 21, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers celebrates their 26-19 win over the Auburn Tigers at Georgia Dome on September 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

College GameDay this week features No. 4 Florida St. vs. No. 10. Clemson, 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

It is a Top 10 Showdown between the two schools with the most ACC Championships.

Man, is it going to be a huge weekend in Tallahassee or what? As I am sure you all know, our beloved Tigers are on the road this weekend to take on the Florida State Seminoles in a game that is meaningful for both teams, in terms of national respect.

On one hand, there’s Florida State.

Yes, the national media seems to love them in the preseason every year, but most people around the country expect them to “flop” at some point during the season and don’t see them as a contender to win a National Title.

To be frank, I don’t see why anyone should expect any different this season.

Let’s be honest, the Seminoles haven’t had a good team since when? Dare I say the year 2000? That was the squad with Heisman winner Chris Weinke, Snoop Minnis and Travis Minor, among others.

Granted, they have won three ACC Championships since then, with the most recent being in 2005.

However, go back, and look at the ’05 team. They finished at 8-5 and only 5-3 in ACC play, and were led by guys like Drew Weatherford at QB and Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington at RB.

That team was far from stellar.

The Seminoles have a chance this weekend to prove that they are back to the same level as those great teams who played in the ‘90s. A win over a Top 10 team would start making some believers out of people—this team can do big things not only this year but in the future as well.

Now on to Clemson.

This game is just as big for them in terms of gaining national respect.

I thought the Tigers turned the corner last year. They showed everyone that they were going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come when they ran the gauntlet and beat three Top 25 teams in a row (Auburn, Florida St and on the road against Virginia Tech) early in the season.

Despite a late season swoon, they still went on to win the ACC Championship against the Hokies.

However, all of those hopes and dreams came crashing down on a Wednesday night in early January, down in Miami. The incident I’m referring to is, of course, the absolute throttling against West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, with a score of 70-33.

That game was the last time the Tigers had the national spotlight, and man, they really blew it.

This Saturday they have another chance in the spotlight, and they cannot afford to get smacked again. If that happens, I think it will set Clemson back for years, in terms of national respect.

Over the past several years, the term “pulling a Clemson” has become well known across the country in national media, as well as the public. Just when you think a team has it all together and is poised to do great things, they can fall flat on their face when you least expect it.

This term has been connected to the Tigers, due to their failures.

I believe that a win this weekend could change that reputation, though. Back in the ‘80s, the Tigers were respected across the country and were a team that everyone knew would have to be reckoned with year-in and year-out. I would absolutely love for them to get back to that level.

Many feel that Clemson has no chance to beat Florida State.

But hey guys, let me tell you a secret: THE TIGERS CAN WIN THIS. I am not going to get into the X’s and O’s of it (we have other writers doing articles on that), but trust me.

In my opinion, this is a perfect opportunity for the Tigers to do what I consider “pulling a Clemson.” See, to me, this phrase means that when everyone doubts the Tigers, and no one is giving them a chance, they come out and shock the world.

All I really know is that when Chief Osceola throws that spear in the ground Saturday night, it is on.