Finishing the Dream Season: Clemson's Next Five Games
Not since 1991 have the Clemson Tigers football team won the ACC championship. For you history buffs out there, that was the year BEFORE Florida State joined the conference.
Now some 18 years and four coaches later, head coach Dabo Swinney finds himself in a spot his predecessor never could get to: two wins away from a trip to Tampa for the ACC title game.
Some things need to happen first: Clemson needs to win its next two ACC games. Let's take a look at those games and the ones that exist beyond them.
Game One at NC State, Nov. 14
Containing Russell Wilson is the key. He's one of the most prolific passers in the ACC, and the Clemson secondary will need to be on their toes all game long.
That being said, NC State's defense is simply awful, a fact proven by the 49 points they gave up to Duke.
Expect this one to be close in the first half, with the Tigers pulling away in the second half to win 37-21.
Game Two vs. Virginia, Nov. 21
When Virginia comes to Death Valley on Nov. 21, they'll encounter a stadium filled with 85,000 fans counting down the minutes until their team is the ACC Atlantic champion.
Looking at games earlier this year, you'd think a lesser ACC opponent would be a challenge for Clemson. However, this will be the biggest game of Swinney's short career. Win this, and you're in.
I look for Clemson to dominate this game from the start and never look back.
Tigers win 48-13.
Game Three at South Carolina, Nov. 28
ACC Atlantic crown in hand, the Tigers wrap up the regular season with a trip to Columbia to battle hated rival South Carolina.
Clemson dominated this game last year, but recent history shows this game to be close the majority of the time.
Steve Spurrier will have his team ready to play, and blitzing linemen Cliff Matthews and Eric Norwood will give Clemson's QB Kyle Parker fits all day.
Not to be outdone by a defense, C.J. Spiller cements his Heisman invite by racking up 300-plus all-purpose yards, leading Clemson to a close 28-24 win.
Game Four vs. Georgia Tech, Dec. 5
Ahhh, breathe it in, Tiger fans. You're here in Tampa at the ACC title game: a place you never thought you'd be. But enough of that—there's business to take care of.
Georgia Tech beat Clemson back in September by three points in a game that was really a tale of two halves.
The Jackets came out and crushed Clemson in the first half, only to see the Tigers roar back in the second half and end a mere field goal short of sending the game into overtime.
Clemson, motivated by revenge and the fact they've never been this far before, put the pressure on early.
This will force unintentional third and long passes by Techs's offense.
By the time the clock hits 0:00, Clemson has a 24-17 win and hoists the ACC championship trophy at midfield. Spiller runs around throwing oranges into the stands.
Game Five vs. Cincinnati, Jan. 5, 2010
Not only does Clemson win the ACC and get to the Orange Bowl, they've got a chance to knock off an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats team.
Powered by the QB duo of Tony Pike and Zach Collaros, Cincy has swept their way through the
Big East into their second consecutive Orange Bowl. Now matched up against a determined Clemson team, Cincy falls down early but tightens things up in the second half.
It takes a long fourth quarter drive, but Clemson pulls out a 24-21 Orange Bowl win. Spiller plays great, but it's Jacoby Ford who comes away with the Orange Bowl MVP award.
Dabo wins the ACC Coach of the Year, and Spiller gets the ACC Player of the Year award. Thus concludes the Clemson dream season.