Wake Forest and Clemson, Epic David vs. Goliath Type Matchup

“David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Giant [Goliath] on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over Goliath, with a sling and a stone, without a sword in hand, he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”

You most likely remember that bible story most of us can recount from memory. It’s also used prevalently today when a lesser, struggling team faces the daunting task before them when facing off with a behemoth.

Saturday’s Clemson-Wake Forest matchup, this epic David vs. Goliath meeting, is laced with a sense of irony, role reversals.

For the most part over the years, past match-ups between the two ACC Atlantic Division teams, Clemson was always Goliath and Wake Forest was always that wiry spit of a boy, David. If Vegas had been around then, they’d surly have given a ten thousand to one chance David would have been the victim.

People, many people, outside of Vegas anyways, feel now like those of thousands of years ago “Little Ole Clemson” doesn’t stand much of a chance. Honestly, I believe even David gave himself virtually no chance to smite the giant but he faced him anyway.

Saturday, such an epic drama will unfold in Death Valley. The outcome certainly doesn’t come with the odds given David but the Clemson Tigers do have a daunting battle before them. I hope, after practices this week, Dabo Swinney led is his team on a rock hunt. They will most probably need them.

As lovers and devotees of their team, Clemson fans are no different than most others teams that struggle. They’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with this young, injury riddled team. A cursory look at just the record of Swinney’s 2021 team, one might say, “ 7-3 isn’t bad, fans are just spoiled.” There may be some degree of truth in that statement, but one must look deeper.

Every single game, with the exception of the two against non Power-5 competition, has been a mighty battle to the end. Grateful for each win, fans still have that gnawing, uneasy feeling because of the quality of play in those games. They have a lack, not of support, but of belief of things they have seen thus far.

I’ll admit, it’s left many with jilted confidence and in the heart of Tigers everywhere, even if they deny it vehemently, lay questions of confidence in the play of their team. It’s there. Spoiled or not, most just want that kind of certainty of past seasons but nothing is certain for David, (Clemson) this season, nothing.

The greater the opponent, the sweeter the victory. I know, some will eagerly point out Clemson was/is a slight favorite but let’s not fool ourselves, those betting lines are designed to pull gambling money into the equation like a sponge pulls in water. It’s nothing you can ever feel truly confident in.

Yes, David, without swords and yes, much doubt, reached in his sack, pulled out that smooth rock, placing it in his homemade sling and perfectly delivered a death blow to the giant. I always draw a certain degree of hopefulness in this biblical story of the original underdog. One that by sheer will and courage, despite the odds, triumphed.

So Saturday, the Tigers must go into the game with the belief and will of David. Sometimes, belief in oneself is stronger than the power of a giant. One has to hope, those post-practice rock hunts, led by Swinney, that the Tigers have chosen just the right ones. It’s amazing what an injured, tired, weary bunch of young men can accomplish and maybe, ancient history will again repeat itself. Who knows?

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