Clemsoning—it's a term that has made its way into the lexicon of sports fans, pundits and broadcasters over the past two years, and lately it has become a weekly watch for those who enjoy taking delight in others' misery.
But, what is "Clemsoning," exactly? Well, it would be when you are a highly favored team (usually at home), and find a way to inexplicably lose to a team you should never lose to. Either that, or you are a Top 10 football team that loses a game you shouldn't and the rails completely come off for your season.
In the Dabo Swinney era, the Tigers have become famous for doing both, of course.
Heck, this whole thing has taken a life of its own, with the folks over at CrystalBallRun.com even creating a "Clemsoning Watch" for this season.
However, following the escape over North Carolina State and its 56-7 beat down of Wake Forest at home this weekend, one thing is apparent—Clemson won't be losing games they shouldn't lose in 2013-14.
In the past, Dabo Swinney's teams have earned the term, losing on the road to Georgia Tech in 2011 after an 8-0 start to the season and then going on to give up 70 points in a 70-33 thumping by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl that same year.
Those are but two examples of what Clemsoning was.
Sure, the term may have made its way into the Urban Dictionary, but the reality is the slipper no longer fits Dabo Swinney's crew in 2013-14.
In fact, Swinney took to the radio earlier this week to chat about that very subject (h/t TigerTalk.com):
It’s really kind of a joke to be honest with you. So what if we lose a ball game? How many teams don’t lose a ballgame? It’s a joke. I think it was really poorly done by their part [ESPN]… the one guy who was doing the broadcast. It just gets old. It’s disrespectful to our players. I’ve beat this horse to death. There are only 7 teams in America that have been ranked 33 weeks in a row or more and we are one of them. To me that is consistency. We have now won 11 straight games against unranked opponents by double digits and only Alabama has a longer streak. We have won 9 out of our last 10 conference games by double digits. It doesn’t seem to matter what we do. Certain people have their own agendas. That’s just the way it is. We just focus on trying to be our best. I know there is a lot of people tired of hearing that [Clemsoning].
So, why is Clemsoning just as dead as the Latin language? Well, a lot of it has to do with the defensive side of the ball for a change.
Don't get me wrong, the offense is a major part, but it has always been there under Swinney.
This year it is the defense that is making all the difference. Instead of having to put up points in bunches or try to go toe-to-toe with the likes of West Virginia's offense, the 2013 Clemson defense is making stops and getting turnovers when needed.
Entering the game today, opponents were converting fewer third downs than a season ago, and the Tigers defense already had four interceptions with two of them returned for touchdowns. Even bigger than that is the fact that Clemson was allowing four fewer points a game to opponents as well.
That alone puts less pressure on the offense to have to get into a track meet, unless they are doing it of their own will of course.
Additionally, the biggest change is a defense that is getting immense pressure up front. Through three games, the Tigers defense had 12 sacks—that's over a third of the 34 sacks Clemson had a season ago.
Right now the Clemson defense is on pace to record 48 sacks on the season, and that's a huge help to Tahj Boyd and Co. on the other side of the ball.
More than any of the stats, Swinney has his team playing confident and focused football every weekend. That's what was missing in the past.
Saturday was just the biggest example of why Clemsoning is no longer. The Tigers' Tajh Boyd went completely nuts, throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns, while also adding 69 yards and a TD rushing before being pulled in a mercy situation after three quarters of action.
Defensively, the Tigers held Wake Forest to just 222 yards of total offense, two of 13 on third down conversions, just 60 yards on the ground and forced two turnovers on the day.
So, perhaps we can now put the term "Clemsoning" to rest once and for all? This team isn't going to lose to teams it shouldn't in 2013.
*Andy Coppens in the Big Ten Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for more of the college football conversation.
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