LSU presents a huge opportunity for Clemson on the national stage.
Here we are December 13th and Clemson has itself in a situation. No one wants to say this out loud but Clemson's regular season ended on a very sour note. A fourth straight loss to rival South Carolina has the Clemson fan base stirred up and separated. One side is perfectly content with winning 10 games no matter how the wins and losses shake out. The other side sees 10 wins as a good accomplishment too but they realize a resume that has Clemson losing to South Carolina is unacceptable.
It's not just losing to South Carolina it's the big picture of Clemson football through the eyes of the national college football fan and perception. In a span of a year Clemson has lost to South Carolina twice, West Virginia and Florida State. These are the teams that are talented enough challenge Clemson. In the same time span Clemson has only five wins against teams with winning records: Virginia Tech in the 2011 ACC Championship Game, Ball State, Virginia Tech, Duke and NC State.
The four losses are the teams Clemson has to beat and this isn't really up for debate. Words don't make this sound better or go away. It's a legitimate monkey on Clemson footballs back right now. Since the departure of Tommy Bowden Clemson football has made many strides under head coach Dabo Swinney. If you're honest with yourself the next step is winning these games against tough opponents.
The big "Mo"
Momentum is the one constant in college football. Teams that have momentum usually have some or all of these traits: they just beat their rival, finished the year strong, won a conference championship, the finish of the season is spear heading the schools recruiting, playing in a BCS Bowl game. Schools either have this momentum at the end of the season or they chase it all the way to fall camp.
Right now Clemson is on the wrong side of momentum. Losses to the two toughest team on the schedule, distractions from preparing for a huge opportunity against LSU and now recruiting. Clemson needs something good to happen and the only way to do this is to finish strong recruiting. This means outworking the sharks of the SEC playing the "you don't want to play in the ACC" card to recruits.
The crossroads of Clemson football
Clemson is at a crossroads in my view. This means two things; beat LSU then beat Georgia the first game of 2013. Not preparing, not doing your job and not all the politically correct jargon we hear coaches say. This is means mentally instilling in this team that beating LSU is a mindset. There won't be a second place in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. I saw on the ESPN fan confidence poll 83% of America thinks LSU wins this game and almost every pundit that has spoken about this game says LSU wins. The common thought amongst experts is LSU is too physical for Clemson and therefore they win.
LSU will be the most physical defense Clemson has played all year.
Of course coaches don't admit to hearing the scuttle like this and rightfully so but this is public perception. Walking out of that Georgia Dome New Years eve with another loss to a tough opponent will not bode well for Clemson in any regard. However beating LSU even if by one point will alter public perception going in to the stretch run of recruiting and would be a commercial for Clemson football. Are you getting tired of hearing Clemson can't win these physical type game against teams like South Carolina and LSU? Theres only one way to make the talk stop; go win.