The fam and I were returning home from church last Sunday when we spotted what we presumed to be an Eastern box turtle crossing the rural street we were driving on.
Seeing as we’ve just begun home-schooling our oldest of three, we thought it an opportune time for a unit study on turtles.
So I executed a turtle-jacking, putting the little lady in a plastic grocery bag and hoping into the passenger seat of our minivan as we zoomed away.
Thinking the turtle would remain in her shell out of fear, I turned and showed her off to the three seated nearby in the next row.
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Suddenly, she sprung out her head and four legs and flailed wildly.
Which might have been OK … if my wife hadn’t also screamed “Claws!” just minutes after we had discussed the thought that snapper turtles are distinguished by, among other things, having claws.
So I’m swinging this turtle around inside the van, hunting for anywhere to quickly toss her down as we suddenly come upon three bicyclists around the next turn in the road.
Thank goodness poise kicked in for my wife. I can only imagine what that accident story would have read like in the next day’s newspaper (although probably no stranger than we had a deer break into our house and gut the place, while we were pinned inside).
We have since released Jelly Peanut Butter Strelow back into the wild, but the message received that day was clear, given Clemson’s opponent this week.
Fear … the … turtle.
OK, maybe that whole campaign has been shelved since Maryland (1-3, 0-0) has lost consecutive home games to North Duke Rutgers and Middle Tennessee – this after needing overtime at home to edge James Madison.
How about, “You probably oughtta respect the turtle?”
For we’ve seen this apparent mismatch before, and the overwhelming favored Tigers have sunk to the occasion a few too many times to write it off from happening again.
If Maryland plugs the turnover dam and Clemson is inefficient offensively, this could be a game.
That said, what separates this from 2006 or 2008 – aside from the fact both contests were in Death Valley – is that the Tigers were a fragile team going into both contests. It was as if the sky had fallen after the Va. Tech defeat in 2006, even though Clemson was still in the thick of the division hunt. And last year, that team was scared to lose, precipitating the second-half meltdown.
I think Maryland’s quick passing game could give Clemson its proverbial troubles handling tight ends and running backs over the middle. But there isn’t a single matchup elsewhere that shouldn’t favor the Tigers.
You look at Maryland’s personnel, and so many of its players on the offensive line and entire defense were lower-tier recruits. That didn’t stop Georgia Tech’s defense from holding its own against Clemson, mind you.
But it’s hard not to pick talent over unlikely circumstance.
This one should be over in about the time it takes me to get a table at Baltimore’s Blue Moon Café for its renowned Cap’n Crunch French toast.
PREDICTION: CLEMSON 31, MARYLAND 13