The “what if’s” of life and sport, drives me bonkers.
However, I think it would be appropriate, for the sake of conversation, to explore some of the directions the season could follow whether Clemson were to win or lose. As an unapologetic Tiger, I believe strongly, Clemson wins by a very close, razor thin margin but what if they fall short.
I believe that Clemson has the better playoff chances, regardless of the outcome. Other than Georgia, the schedule isn’t actually strenuous. So what if the worst happens and Clemson drops this game?
Then, Dabo Swinney Brent Venables and Tony Elliott, Clemson’s three wiseman, must help the team refocus and motivate them to put the first game out of their minds. Like Swinney says “Never let one loss become two losses by looking back and not forward.”
If it’s a close, noble effort by both teams, a loss by either might be viewed too as a positive (ie: the term “quality loss” comes to mind). If that is to be the outcome, I don’t believe either team will be excluded from the CFB Playoff based on the outcome of just one game. If Georgia loses, while certainly not out of the hunt, their schedule sets them on a rougher path.
What if…Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina State and Boston College improve enough to enter the top 25 at some point during the season? I believe, the strength of schedule would obviously improve. Add to that, a potential top ten matchup in Charlotte for the ACC Championship is not out of the question.
Even without such a matchup I still believe if Clemson is in the conference championship game and wins, they’re in the playoff, plain and simple. I believe a one loss conference champion is in a greater position to be included in the CFB Playoff than a one loss, non-conference champion.
Again, Georgia’s path being tougher, I’m not sure if they can afford to take a loss in this game and another in conference play. That would most likely end their quest for a playoff berth, as no two loss team has ever gotten in.
I see them going to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. This is all speculation on my part but others, more knowledgeable than I, believe similarly.
Summing up the “what if’s,” I’ll say it again, this isn’t intended negatively. I’m not planning on a loss but rather, I’m looking at all potential outcomes and surmising where each team stands when the dust settles after this huge season opener.
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is the smartest, most prudent course to take for either team. As some say, with the talking season ending, “just spot the dang ball” and let’s see what happens. I’m sure I speak for many when I say…bring it on, we’re ready!
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