Even though the Clemson Tigers are on the first of their two bye weeks, it’s important that this time be used wisely as the pressure will continue to mount as the season rolls on.
The Tigers proved they can stand against a top team like the Georgia Bulldogs, and easily took care of business in Week 2 against FCS opponent South Carolina State. Now, the Tigers will move into ACC play, and will start off their road trip in Charlotte vs. the NC State Wolfpack.
For the newly No.3 ranked Tigers, this is one of several traps that are lying in wait for an opportunity at an upset.
For every team ranked as highly as Clemson, traps games like this can often be overlooked; many are already trying to anticipate a Florida State-Clemson matchup and the possibility of College Gameday returning for a second stint in Tigertown.
But to even consider that, the Tigers need to get through Carter-Finley Stadium, which can be one of the more difficult places to play outside of Clemson, Florida State, and Virginia Tech.
With a new head coach in Dave Doeren and backup Pete Thomas starting in place of Brandon Mitchell, who is not playing due to suffering a foot injury, the Wolfpack will be looking for some momentum under their new head coach. And in an ESPN Thursday night game, Clemson can bet on a good crowd as they look for an upset of the No. 3 ranked Tigers.
On paper, Clemson is the most talented team, and they must play above the level of their competition under a coach still building a program. NC State will be looking to get off to a quicker start after escaping with a narrow victory over the Richmond Spiders.
Syracuse is an especially intriguing matchup, as they are not only breaking in a new head coach and new faces at quarterback, but Clemson also has the privilege of being the Orange’s first ACC opponent since they joined the conference. While they no longer have a Donovan McNabb or Marvin Harrison to tear Clemson apart like they did in the 1996 Gator Bowl, they hold the prestige of upsetting a ranked team for five straight seasons in the Carrier Dome.
College, while at home, remains intriguing in facing quarterback Chase Rettig, who is one of the ACC’s top leaders in passing yards who could look to take advantage of an inconsistent Clemson secondary. Fortunately for Clemson, only Syracuse and NC State are on the road, and being at home brings a little more security along with it.
Florida State is important, yes, but traps are lying in wait to derail the Tigers. And to even think about what the Seminoles are doing, the Tigers must disarm traps that the Wolfpack, Demon Deacons, Orangemen and Eagles will inevitably try to set.