NC State Could be Make or Break Game for Clemson

As Clemson fans, we all want to win the National Championship every year. And while that’s true with all college football fans, Clemson has been very close to making it a reality over the past few years. So far this season, the Tigers have looked a little different.

Clemson has struggled mightily on offense the first quarter of the season. The offense has averaged only 8.5 points per game against FBS competition this year. They are close to last in every major category regarding the offense.

There is still plenty of time to right the ship, but the season is only 12 days when you think about it. So, how much time do the Tigers have left before the proverbial clock strikes midnight on their postseason hopes?

Well, to answer that question, it depends on your expectations. If the expectation is to win the national championship, the answer is likely yes, this could be a make or break game. If your expectation is to make the CFP, then yes, this could be a make or break type game.

Notice I said “could be.” It really depends on what happens with a lot of the teams ranked ahead of Clemson. Ohio State is slipping in the rankings already, and you know some of those other teams are going to take losses at some point. That’s part of what makes college football so exciting. Every week feels like a playoff.

However, there seems to be more pressure on Clemson than anyone else. But why? The reason is simple. The rankings show that confidence in this Clemson group is waning. Clemson is currently ranked 7th in the coaches poll, and 9th in the AP poll. While the playoff is determined by the CFP selection committee and not either of these polls, don’t expect the Tigers to be ranked any higher in their minds.

Playing in the ACC is a double edged sword. It’s true that the path to the playoff is generally much easier than other conferences. That being said, the playoff committee doesn’t just look at wins from the lowly ACC; it looks for dominance. Clemson must beat other teams by an overwhelming margin.

Think back to a couple years ago when Clemson had a close call against UNC. Clemson continued to drop in the rankings several weeks after. Clemson has dropped again this year after a close game against Georgia Tech. Expect an even bigger drop in the event of a tight game against NC State.

Right now, the Tigers still have everything in front of them. Much has been said about the stagnant offense, and that’s all you hear about on ESPN. You better believe lots of eyes will be on Clemson this weekend. The margin for error is small.

Of course, if Clemson does have a close call, all is not lost. The Tigers can still make a New Years Six bowl. Some may think that is disappointing, but making the CFP isn’t a right, it’s a privilege. A privilege reserved for the select few, the very best teams in college football. And let me ask this question; if Clemson barely pulls off a victory over the Wolfpack, with another lackluster offensive performance, do they deserve to be in the CFP conversation, at least right now?

Remember Dabo Swinney’s five goals for his teams every year:

  1. Win the Opener
  2. Win the Division
  3. Win the State Championship
  4. Win ACC Championship
  5. Win the Closer

You’ll notice that winning the Natty or making the CFP isn’t one of them. He can’t control the narrative, or how others perceive Clemson. The Tigers still have four of those goals that can be accomplished.

So no matter the outcome, let’s just enjoy watching our Tigers play hard and leave it all on the field. Hopefully this team can accomplish those last four goals.

Enjoy watching some great Tigers football. After all, why should the goals of the fan base, as well as expectations, be any different than the head coach’s, who happens to be the best in the history of the program.

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