Clemson ready to earn some ACC respect against LSU

Football - Head coach Dabo Swinney celebrates Clemson' 26-19 win over Auburn in the Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Head coach Dabo Swinney celebrates Clemson' 26-19 win over Auburn in the Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta

Beating LSU next step in being among best

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— Clemson began the season in the Georgia Dome by winning a measure of respect for the ACC.

Or so it seemed.

Clemson’s 26-19 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic win over Auburn was impressive at the time, but the victory was devalued with every subsequent Auburn defeat. The east Alabama Tigers finished the season at 3-9, firing coach Gene Chizik two years after a BCS national title and replacing him with former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

26 days from now, Clemson will return to the Georgia Dome, again defending the ACC’s honor against a high-quality SEC opponent in No.9 LSU. When the No.14 Tigers take part in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve, they’ll seek a springboard win for their program – but also for the ACC.

“This is a great opportunity for us to show the strength of our program, play against one of the high-quality teams,” said senior tight end Brandon Ford. “LSU, they’re a great team with great coaching, great players. If we can win this game it’ll speak so much for our program as well as our conference.”

Ford stated Tuesday that there have been “plenty of ACC teams that have gone down and beaten up on SEC teams,” but that hasn’t been the case this season. The ACC is 1-5 against the SEC this season, with Clemson the only victor.

In fact, Clemson is the only ACC team to stay within 10 points of an SEC foe this season. Tennessee beat N.C. State 35-21 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, Georgia whipped Georgia Tech 42-10, Florida beat Florida State 37-26, Vanderbilt routed Wake Forest 55-21 and South Carolina beat the Tigers 27-17.

Ford says he doesn’t believe the SEC is more physical than the ACC.

“I don’t buy into that stuff,” he said. “People will say that to get under your skin at times. I don’t get why they have the motto of them saying we’re not physical, all that. Everybody doesn’t play their best games on certain days. We had two games this year (Florida State and South Carolina) where we didn’t play up to our standards and came up short.

“All that stuff about them being on top, it goes to show, that can be proven wrong. There have been teams that beat them that aren’t in the ACC. Utah beat Alabama in 2009 (in the Sugar Bowl), so that said a lot about where the strength of the SEC comes from. Stuff like that is irrelevant to me. It’s any given team on any given day, and it comes down to the team that’s going to perform and execute.”

In fairness, the SEC has earned a solid reputation. SEC teams have won the last six BCS national titles, and Alabama will play Notre Dame for a seventh straight title on Jan. 7.

“The SEC is the premier conference in the country, not just in the South,” said senior cornerback Xavier Brewer. “They’ve proven that because they win the games they need to win. They win the big games and all their bowl games. This is another opportunity for us to prove we’re at that elite level and can play with guys like that. I feel we recruit the type of talent to play with them, we’ve got to prove it.”

Coupled with the 2013 season opener against Georgia, the Tigers have two excellent opportunities to do just that.

“I feel like it’s really exciting for us as a team. We want to be a powerhouse program,” said senior “Will” linebacker Tig Willard. “To do that, we have to play the best teams in the conference. Playing LSU should be a great game for the players and a great game for the program.”

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Comments » 9

Xander5000 writes:

We should have got ACC respect when we took the so happend to be National Champs(Auburn) to overtime at their place that year. We should have got ACC respect when we beat them(Auburn) in our place the very next year. We didn't know they was going to struggle that year but they managed to beat S. Carolina in Columbia and S. Carolina didn't have a down year that year. Then when Clemson beat a SEC team(Auburn) in the Ga. Dome, it wasn't our fault that Auburn had a meltdown this year. So we should get respect regardless. My question is when are we as an ACC football program going to not have to keep proving ourselves to others to get respect? Ask Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas A&M and ofcourse Auburn about their level of respect for Clemson. WE ARE SO CAPABLE but we need to beleive it and thrive off of it.

MoncksTater writes:

@ jdl23numbers :
Huh ? That illegible comic book prose you use gave me a nosebleed. Some people in the actual cfb universe understand that all major colleges like a Clemson or a Texas or a Michigan or a Tennessee go through the same stages of ups and downs with respect to wins and losses. All the E$PN SEC sack gargling that
we are innundated with on a 24/7 schedule only serves to convince weak minded puppets that there is only one conference deserving of our attention and that all others are doing it wrong . Lame that so many idiots actually believe everything that the money investor is selling them...its like believing Coca Cola is the best because Coca Cola tells you it is. I wish more folks out there just believed in their team and quit worrying about what the other 12/14 or 16 teams in your particular sporting association were doing...this never went on before the BCS and ESPN got so glorified and monopolistically set . I like Clemson...dont care if the rest of the ACC ever wins another game against the Sun Belt or the MAC...just Clemson , all the time.

ashleycooper writes:

Clemson has to beat one of the "big boys" that are a legit top 10 or top 15 program in order to get the national respect it desires. Looking back on the season, Clemson played 2 really good teams . . . and lost to both of them. The Tigers are getting one more chance to prove themselves against a universally recognized top 10 team in this bowl game. If the Tigers want to get past their current reputation of not being able to beat one of the big boys of college football, then the Tigers better actually beat LSU on the field come New Year's Eve.

TrevorT writes:

in response to jdl031287#282299:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tater is right, your comments are as confusing as your user name. If you honestly can't see that this program is improving, you need to go ahead and jump on the SEC bandwagon. It seems like you already have one foot out the door. I doubt anyone will miss the absence of one more half-fan who's more concerned about a conference than his team. I don't understand when college football changed from a team sport to a conference sport. It's ridiculous!

kellytown writes:

in response to TrevorT:

Tater is right, your comments are as confusing as your user name. If you honestly can't see that this program is improving, you need to go ahead and jump on the SEC bandwagon. It seems like you already have one foot out the door. I doubt anyone will miss the absence of one more half-fan who's more concerned about a conference than his team. I don't understand when college football changed from a team sport to a conference sport. It's ridiculous!

Hey Tater I totally agree with you as I have said in the past. I am sick and tired of people putting down the ACC especially the CLEMSON TIGERS!!!They all have their right to an opinon just take it somewhere else I see a lot of improvement in the Tigers on both sides of the ball yes we have more work to do.Dabo and Co. are going about it the right way great recruting year after year this is how you build a strong foundation get depth. We are young and some so called fans don;t have patience to wait for these young players to get experience and knowledge.

brookesdad729 writes:

in response to Xander5000:

We should have got ACC respect when we took the so happend to be National Champs(Auburn) to overtime at their place that year. We should have got ACC respect when we beat them(Auburn) in our place the very next year. We didn't know they was going to struggle that year but they managed to beat S. Carolina in Columbia and S. Carolina didn't have a down year that year. Then when Clemson beat a SEC team(Auburn) in the Ga. Dome, it wasn't our fault that Auburn had a meltdown this year. So we should get respect regardless. My question is when are we as an ACC football program going to not have to keep proving ourselves to others to get respect? Ask Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas A&M and ofcourse Auburn about their level of respect for Clemson. WE ARE SO CAPABLE but we need to beleive it and thrive off of it.

When will we get respect? Beat LSU in the bowl, then next year beat Georgia but more importantly beat SC. It would be more important to beat SC at the end of the season than GA at the beginning for sure! Of course we need to win all the games in between.

cuGIZ82 writes:

Seems as if many of CU fans were more satisfied with the program going 8-4 and beating SC than they are now going 10-2 and losing to SC. No one likes losing to a rival but we (fans) shouldn't get discouraged because we are improving.

Not many were complaining of the lack of strength in the ACC Schedule when we were struggling to win 8 games in a season. All of a sudden after we post back to back 10 win seasons the conference is "soft." No the conference is not deeper than the SEC in my opinion but that is what we are going to have to deal with in a league that is "basketball" driven. Clemson, FSU, Va Tech, Miami & Ga Tech are the few football crazed schools and until the other universities place more effort into their football programs the conference will not be deep.

TrevorT writes:

in response to jdl031287#282299:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah sure, everyone else is an idiot. We're the ones putting words in someone else's mouth and throwing out racial slurs. Cracker? What gave it away, the good grammar? You are a complete joke, and are the only one who doesn't see it. Go grow a pair and learn how to support your team.

TrevorT writes:

in response to jdl031287#282299:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for proving my point. I is r b real scared.

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