By Richard Hefner
Editor’s Note: We are on a compressed holiday schedule this week, so had to delay this until today. Feel free to tee off on a prediction after digesting Richard’s always-thorough analysis. -Michaelangelo
Pitt is coming off their second straight 40+ scoring effort. Who would have thunk it? The 47 – 14 victory over Virginia Tech puts Pitt’s record at 5–4 (4-4 in conference). Pitt fans where happy to see another relaxing win. My worry stopped after the early 3’rd quarter goal line stand and the following 99+ yard TD drive. The rest of the game was gravy.
Pitt’s next opponent is 7-1 (6-1 in conference) Clemson. They are coming off a Covid inspired bye week and game postponement after Clemson was already in Tallahassee. As I am typing this, I am watching a TV interview with Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney. Dabo is accusing FSU of not wanting to play and that the FSU is using Covid as an excuse. Dabo is demanding that FSU cough up $300k to reimburse Clemson for the cost of the trip (and upgraded hotel accommodations on a recommendation from Pat Narduzzi) if they want to reschedule. (Dabo did say that they had a team meeting in a “Circus” tent prior to game
postponement. Cancellation, FSU forfeit.)
The scheduled kickoff time is Saturday at 3:30pm on ABC (was previously ESPN).
We all know the rise of Clemson under HCDS. Hired midway thru the 2008 to replace the departing Tommy Bowden, he won the 2008 rivalry game with the Gamecocks. He then promptly lost 5 straight to Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina squads. By 2013, the ACC started to change. Pitt and Syracuse joined the ACC. In 2014 Clemson finally won a rivalry game against U of SC and has not tasted the bitterness of a rivalry game loss since.
But the huge step up for Clemson began in 2015. For the time period 2015-19, Clemson has won both the Atlantic division and the ACC championship 5 straight years with an overall ACC record (including C/C) of 43-2. Those two losses were dealt by the ACC newest members (excluding the 2020 interloper Notre Dame) Pitt in 2016 and Syracuse 2017.
Clemson has also been a CFP team since 2015 winning the NCG twice. The ACC, wanting a 3’rd NC team, made sure Pitt was on Clemson’s schedule. It is Pitt that guarantees Clemson another NC victory. Pitt is the only team that Clemson played in regular or C/C games in the years they won the NC that they did not play in non-winning years. Iron sharpens iron (but so does a sharpening stone).