Friday morning and a very unusual hashtag started appearing on Twitter.
#College > NFL
The week one games of College ball were pretty entertaining all around. There were a few shocks, a few mullerings and a smattering of stars on the rise.
So the less than enthralling Eagles win over Cardinals/ Ref-Fest had the College dudes out proclaiming an early victory in the fight for entertainment. I have to agree. College football is awesome.
So for those of you, maybe not familiar with the swashbuckling, fast paced, entertaining yet in your face elder sibling of the NFL, I thought I would pick out a stand out game from week 2 for you to watch out for and invite you to come on over to the dark side. You will never look back…..
Clemson at Texas A&M.
Two admissions from me straight off the bat. One, I over use the word doozy. Secondly, I’m not the world’s biggest Clemson fan. So having got that one off my chest (phew, that was eating me up inside), this my friends is a doozy.
If you’re not familiar with the scale of college ball let me start with a couple of interesting “fun” facts.
One. Texas A&M (Agriculture and Mechanical, a Military College in College Station TX, midway between Dallas and Houston) has not won a championship for 20 years. This despite having the Heisman winning Johnny Manziel at the peak of his (very short) career for four years.
Two. Texas A&M University has just spent half a billion dollars renovating its stadium.
So ignoring the “everything is bigger in Texas” obvious reference, let’s just think about that for a second.
Think about what has just happened in Oakland with the Raiders (and that is a mess). Look at what’s happening in LA with the Rams and Chargers. And the Aggies (as they are affectionately called) have spent $500million dollars renovating Kyle Field.
But I digress. Kyle Field and the Aggies host Clemson tonight.
It’s a clash of two Head Coaching giants. Jimbo Fisher was lured from Florida State (after winning a Natty in Tallahassee) with an eye watering contract worth $75m. That’s a lot of Benjamin’s for Jimbo, but its Texas so there is a Texan size mountain of pressure that comes with it. The Aggies have gone all in.
At Clemson, under Head Coach Dabo Sweeney, the Tigers are trying hard to build a dynasty. A National Championship was secured in 2017 after being runners up in 2016. And since the College play off’s began, Clemson has been a play off contender in each one, never being outside of a top four ranking.
Having lost Deshaun Watson to the NFL (and a whole host of other stars), their conveyor belt of talent keeps on delivering. For me, Clemson has the best D-line in College Football. Although after last Saturday, Auburn might have other ideas about that.
But it must be true. Sports Illustrated ran the D-line on the front cover. Three of their top defensive stars, Ferrell, Wilkins and Bryant all turned their noses up at the NFL to return for their senior years. Of 11 starters from last year, eight are back.
At QB, Kelly Bryant has as many fans as detractors but he has a lot of talent around him. He’s called a one trick pony who can only play the RPO. Although I recall many saying the same about Watson. Like Alabama, Clemson seem keen on running with two QB’s and Trevor Lawrence is also expected to feature at Kyle Field. Wide receivers Hunter Renfrow and Amari Rodgers are top talent and Clemson has an embarrassment of riches in their running game. Travis Etienne, Adam Choice and Tavien Feaster make Clemson’s run game the go to play for Sweeney.
But here’s the rub. Clemson don’t venture n to Texas often. It’s out of conference. In fact the Tigers from Death Valley, South Carolina haven’t won in the state of Texas since 1959. When they won that classic of bowl games, the BlueBonnet Bowl. Life was so innocent back then when bowls were played for Blue Bonnet’s rather than the Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl or the Popeyes Bahama Bowl.
So, with so much at stake for both teams on Saturday who comes away with the win?
I wouldn’t normally bet against the Aggies at home. And as I said at the top of the show, I am no fan of Clemson. I think that because they have always been ranked top four they get the benefit of the doubt from the Play Off Committee. Last year I didn’t think they were a top four team and the Play Off’s proved that.
But this year feels different and this is the first real test for Jimbo’s new look Aggies. Last weeks run out was just that – a runaway win over Northwestern State. This one however is a test. Jimbo Fisher is going to find himself under some kick-ass pressure if he comes up short. But he is till in the honeymoon period. He has time. A win for the Aggies would get some real momentum going.
But for me it’s a Clemson win. In a doozy of a shoot out.
College > NFL
UK fans can watch this game on BT Sport 2 at Midnight Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Photo credit : cbs sports