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Clemson Starting to Resemble Alabama

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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Clemson has officially reached Alabama status in the sense that what are billed as their toughest games are no longer all that compelling.

Clemson has officially reached Alabama status in the sense that what are billed as their toughest games are no longer all that compelling.

I wrote 4,000 words this week explaining why this would be such a great matchup. Boy, was I wrong. It’s not like I was just making stuff up either, there was statistical evidence that, while all signs pointed to a Clemson win, it would be a hotly contested battle. Virginia Tech was, and still is, a good team. Clemson is just on a different level.

With the win tonight, Clemson beat its eighth consecutive ranked opponent, the longest active streak in the FBS, and tied for the second longest in ACC history.

The run started off with more of a close call than we’ve become accustomed to in these headline matchups featuring the Tigers.

Lamar Jackson and the third ranked Louisville Cardinals entered Death Valley and challenged the eventual champions to an extent not yet seen that season. Clemson escaped, however, and began what has become one of the most impressive streaks in college football, right now.

At the end of that same month, Clemson travelled to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State, ranked 12th at the time. Down a score, going into the fourth quarter, Deshaun Watson orchestrated a comeback for the books, culminating in 34-yard dime to Jordan Leggett, and a converted two point try, with about two minutes to play.

It was not until the ACC Championship that the Tigers would face another ranked opponent, this time the Virginia Tech Hokies, 23rd in the country. The Coastal representatives nearly pulled off a come-from-behind victory of their own, but, this time, it was Cordrea Tankersley who sealed the conference title with an interception, in the game’s waning moments.

In the College Football Playoff semifinal, Clemson dominated one of these headline contests for the first, but not the last time. The Tigers shut out Ohio State 31-0 in one of the most impressive performances of the year, across the sport at large.

Obviously, the next came against Alabama in one of the greatest national championships ever. It’s beginning to seem like the Tide may be the only team, this year, that can even raise Clemson’s collective blood pressure.

Given what we’ve seen from Auburn in the proceeding weeks, following Clemson’s 14-6 win over the top 15 Plainsmen, the result looks much more impressive. With a first year starter, in his debut road showing, the defense obliterated a group that has scored 100 points in its last two games.

This time around, Lamar Jackson and Louisville hosted Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner was bottled up, by his standards, and Kelly Bryant played so well that Deshaun Watson, himself, was tweeting that his successor would be even better than the Texans’ rookie.

Finally, tonight, in Lane Stadium, against a very good Virginia Tech defense and a freshman quarterback that had outplayed Michael Vick, through their respective first four games, Clemson proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that it’s them and Alabama, with everyone else a few notches below.

It’s not very often that a team loses a transformational talent, like Deshaun Watson, along with the level of skill position talent that the Tigers did, and don’t take a step back.

Alabama is still the gold standard, but Clemson is more than just silver.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP