CLEMSON, S.C. — As crazy as it sounds, this season is about to get tougher for No. 8 Clemson.
Sure, the Tigers went from obscurity to the top 10 with three consecutive wins over defending national champion Auburn, rising Florida State and current Atlantic Coast Conference champ Virginia Tech. But anyone paying attention knows that Clemson (5-0, 2-0 ACC) has a knack for big wins followed by letdowns, something the Tigers hope to avoid when they play Boston College (1-4, 0-2) today at Death Valley.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney knows you don’t have to look far to see the program’s tendency to play up – and down – to its competition. He was receivers coach in 2004 when the Tigers won at Miami, then fell to Duke; and in 2006 when Clemson opened 7-1 to reach the top 10 but lost at home to lightly regarded Maryland.
Swinney must guard against the Tigers stumbling against the struggling Eagles. So far, so good.
“I really like their business-like approach,” Swinney said of his team. “They know we’ve got a ton of improvement to do.”
The Tigers were heavy favorites a year ago against a Boston College team that came in having lost its past five games. But it was the Eagles who left with a surprising 16-10 victory, a defeat that sped up the slide to Clemson’s losing season.
GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets climbed 12 spots in the Top 25 in two weeks and come into today’s Atlantic Coast Conference game against Maryland at No. 13.
Georgia Tech (5-0, 2-0 ACC) has averaged almost 52 points thanks to lopsided wins over nonconference opponents Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee State and Kansas. Georgia Tech leads the nation in rushing and ranks second in scoring and total offense.
Johnson has tried to make sure his players remain focused for Maryland (2-2, 1-0), which has struggled since opening its season by beating Miami.
When Johnson says he tells his players in every practice how good he thinks they are, the tone of his voice makes it clear he’s not delivering daily compliments. He’s trying to guard against overconfidence.
“You hope you learn some lessons from last week about not playing well,” Johnson said. “Trust me, I tell them every day how good I think they are.”
SOUTH CAROLINA: Steve Spurrier hopes he’s finally got the pieces of South Carolina’s championship puzzle in place.
The defending SEC Eastern Division champs were supposed to have little trouble on their way back to the league title game – and maybe even take the next step.
But the 18th-ranked Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) have struggled the first month, especially on offense where their lack of production was painfully obvious in a 16-13 loss last week to an Auburn defense that came in as the worst in the conference.
Spurrier felt he had no choice but to swap out fifth-year senior quarterback Stephen Garcia for little-used sophomore Connor Shaw when South Carolina takes on Kentucky (2-3, 0-2) today.
“Stephen is trying as hard as he can and it just hasn’t worked out for him,” Spurrier said. “And the other guy, Connor, now is going to get his chance, and that’s about all I need to say about that.”