For Clemson This Year, It's Not Whether It Slips Up but How Far It Goes
The term “Clemsoning” is dying. It is moving toward a slow, fortunate death, and it took another step closer to its grave on Saturday in upstate New York.
As defined by the always respected Urban Dictionary—and originally coined by the magnificent The Solid Verbal podcast—Clemsoning takes on the following definitions:
1. When you are widely favored to succeed and instead crash & burn. 2. Failing miserably and/or by a wide margin 3. Horribly embarrassing yourself in front of loved ones and strangers alike. 4. Having multiple records broken against you in front of a large audience.
There’s a reason this term exists. In past years, the Tigers have fallen on their faces in games and situations where they should not have stumbled. They’re not alone in this exercise, of course, but the moments are pronounced, and the narrative is well documented.
Clemson’s road game at Syracuse felt like one of those moments in the making: a game where the Tigers could be looking ahead and where a strange, indoor environment—the same building that got a solid Louisville team a season ago—could make a relatively lopsided contest somehow competitive.
But that was not the case.
Clemson started fast, scoring 21 first-quarter points, and put it in cruise control despite some questionable play-calling and decision-making at the end of the first half that cost this team points.
It didn’t matter. Neither did Tajh Boyd’s two interceptions. Boyd was brilliant through much of the afternoon and eclipsed 455 yards passing before the fourth quarter even began.
He connected with his favorite target, wideout Sammy Watkins, on a 91-yard touchdown to officially put it away in the third quarter.
"That play really sealed the game," said Watkins, via ESPN. "Tajh did such a great job of getting the ball out so quick and so fast, it's real easy for the wideouts. Being on the road, you have to jump on a team pretty quick to hold them back."
After that, his day was done. The Tigers added more to their lead even with the starters out of the game, cruising on the road 49-14 with 624 yards of offense to show for it.
More importantly, Clemson once again didn’t Clemson. It wasn't even close.
In fact, the notion of such missteps is both unfair and misinformed at this point. History is just that: history. Instead of waiting for this team to fail, we should be wondering just where the ceiling is on this team or if such ceiling exists.
Well, does it?
Such answers will become available in two weeks. Clemson will take on Boston College at home in Week 7—a game it should have no issues with (and don’t even think about mentioning the notion of Clemsoning; it's not happening).
After that, Florida State will come to town for a game that will have massive ACC and national implications, and maybe, just maybe, it will help decide a Heisman winner. There will be ample time to look at this game from every angle, but its importance cannot be overstated. And both teams seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.
While Boyd’s performance today was nothing short of spectacular, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 393 yards and found the end zone five times against Maryland. The Seminoles will get their second bye week of the season and then it’s off to Clemson.
A national championship contender will emerge from that matchup—one that will serve as one of the biggest football stages of the season. Florida State will be ready, as will Clemson.
The Tigers continue to crush the narrative that has outstayed its welcome, and perhaps 2013 is the year where Clemsoning becomes the term that teams envy.
Flip the narrative—Clemson has earned it.
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