Invincibility is a dangerous feeling in college football.
But if you feel so confident that you can’t lose, then you’re asking to get beat.
Does that make sense?
If so, then let’s move on. What was No. 5 Clemson in last week’s 43-42 loss to Pittsburgh? Were the Tigers scared of losing or playing with a false sense of invincibility?
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The truth likely lies somewhere in between. Had the Panthers missed that late field goal or if Clemson picks up that first down in two tries or simply kicks a field goal on the previous drive to go up 11, would it have simply delayed the inevitable?
“People were expecting us to win every game, and now, we’re not invincible,” said Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett. “But I think that’s just going to help us in the long run. Having that loss on our belt motivates us. That feeling in the locker room was terrible Saturday and nobody wants to feel that again. I feel the loss puts a chip on our shoulder rest of the year.”
Dabo Swinney’s squad is a flawed team. That is not a criticism. It’s a reality in this game.
Ohio State has flaws. Michigan has flaws. So does Louisville, Washington and Wisconsin. Heck, there may even be one or two with No. 1 Alabama.
Some flaws are just more obvious than others. Some are more detrimental to losing than others. Nobody’s perfect in college football, but believing you’ll win every game and believing you could lose is a hard line to walk.
Bottom line, you have to play well to win. And sometimes when you do, you still don’t win.
If you’d told me before last Saturday that Deshaun Watson would throw for 580 yards and complete 52 passes, I’d tell you Clemson is never losing. Ever.
But the Tigers did, because they didn’t execute on both sides of the ball when it mattered most. That’s life. That’s football.
Does it really change how Clemson, which still remained in the top four of the College Football Playoff, is viewed?
The Tigers had been flirting with a loss in five of their first nine games. The offense has been good statistically, but at times, it hasn’t passed the eye test or reached a new level some were expecting, thanks partly to turnovers.
The defense has surpassed expectations in many ways, but being out of position too many times and having maybe one of the worst halves of football in Brent Venables’ Clemson career was too much to overcome.
But this is still one of the best teams in the country. If the Tigers win out, they’re getting into the playoff.
Will Clemson pick itself up off the floor, though, and get back to the winning feeling at Wake Forest on Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN?
Maybe it was a wakeup call. Or maybe that’s just one of those phrases that help people feel better.
Who: Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC) vs. Wake Forest (6-4, 3-3)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
TV: ESPN (Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams)
Radio: WZMJ-FM 93.1 FM in Columbia area
Satellite radio: SiriusXM 194
Series record: Clemson leads 63-17-1
Line: Clemson by 22 1/2