D. C. Moody
CLEMSON — Following what most programs would be calling a successful year, posting a 10-2 record and an appearance in a BCS bowl game, across the landscape of college football the impression is different where the 2103 Clemson Tigers seem to be concerned.
Coming into this past regular season the Tiger faithful were sure the table was set for not only an Atlantic Coast Conference championship but a legitimate shot at an appearance in the BCS National Championship game as well.
The larders were full of talent, the schedule was favorable even with Georgia, Florida State, and University of South Carolina teams highly ranked in the preseason in the mix. So there wasn’t much room to doubt, all the Tigers had to do was keep winning.
Along the way, double digit turnovers led to losses to the Seminoles and Gamecocks.
So what about the so-called experts, who say the pressure is on the Tigers in Miami tonight and this is some sort of opportunity for redemption for a disappointing season? And is what they are saying true, the Buckeyes of Ohio State may just run the score up in front of a nationally televised audience similar to the poor defensive outing in 2012?
According to the guys who will be lining up on the Clemson sidelines, it doesn’t really matter who has said what or what predictions are being bandied about.
“I don’t listen to it at all,” junior safety Robert Smith said with a smile. “It doesn’t have any effect on the game. We still have to go out and execute and let that talk for itself.”
Junior defensive end Corey Crawford had the same attitude as Smith when questioned about the comments in the national media about the upcoming BCS game.
“Practice has been real good,” Crawford said last week. “And to be honest, I don’t think anybody’s really paying too much attention to anything but Ohio State. We’ve got our hands full with them, but the coaches have done a great job of keeping us all focused on what we need to do.”
As if the low expectations by national sports media weren’t enough, trips to BCS games such as the Orange Bowl require a lot of time away from football for the teams and coaches.
“This Orange Bowl is all about Clemson, the team, the fans, the coaches,” said Roderick McDowell, the Tigers’ starting tailback said. “We’ve got a job to do and as far as all the rest of it goes, that can come afterward.”
What would a win mean for Clemson?
“This isn’t just a game, this is the Orange Bowl,” Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. “We haven’t won an Orange Bowl in a long time, or a BCS bowl yet, so we’re trying to do that and distractions are just another one of those hurdles you have to overcome to be successful. That’s no different from any other game, really, you have to play it to win. We’ve kept it about the game and nothing else.”