There is no such thing as a good loss, but there are some that are just much worse than others, for more specific reasons.
Wake Forest is the team that took down the Tigers more than a decade ago, which opened up the door for Dabo Swinney to take over the Clemson football program. Swinney transformed a middle of the road ACC program to the dominant force in college football that they have been leading up to this year. So in retrospect, that was one of the most significant losses in Clemson football history.
This year is a different story. Clemson started the year off ranked number three in the country. That didn’t last long, as the offense sputtered right out the gate. At first glance it just seemed an anomaly as a ferocious Georgia defense stymied Clemson’s offense. It was quickly revealed that was not the case as Clemson just lacked any offensive explosiveness whatsoever, no matter the defense they faced. Clemson became unranked for the first time in many years.
Throughout the next few weeks Clemson did slightly improve offensively, albeit nowhere near years past. Behind a powerhouse defense they fought tooth and nail to play themselves into ACC title contention, however, the road to the game now goes through Wake Forest on Saturday. If Wake Forest were to win, that would seal Clemson’s fate as well as clinch the division for Wake Forest. A double whammy it would be for Clemson.
Clemson is currently enjoying a record 33 game winning streak. That record ties Clemson for the 18th best in FBS history. You would have to go back all the way to November 12th 2016 against Pitt, to find a loss for Clemson on their home turf. A loss this Saturday would snap that streak, which also happens to currently be the longest in the nation.
This Saturday will be the last time most Clemson seniors, and all super seniors will ever get to experience Clemson football from a player’s standpoint. For them, this will be one of those moments in life that are so special, they make you realize how quickly it goes by. Joyous smiles will be on faces, tears will be shed, and all their effort will be left on the field that day. It will be one of life’s wonderful moments for them. Aside from the super seniors, none of them have ever experienced a loss in Death Valley. A loss to Wake Forest would be an ultimate untimely blemish on their otherwise perfect at-home careers.
We are all very familiar with Dabo Swinney’s five goals each year: win the opener, win the division, win the ACC, win the state championship, and win the closer. These goals do not change. This Saturday, a loss to Wake Forest will effectively eliminate the possibility for two of these goals from being achieved.
Clearly, a loss to Wake Forest on Saturday would put a sour taste in Clemson fans’ mouths, one that would be lasting. One would have to assume that this season is more of the exception than the rule regarding Clemson football, so opposing teams better enjoy it while it lasts, because next season they will likely enjoy the buzzsaw coming there way. In the meantime, let us all just hope Clemson finds a way to win come Saturday.
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