CLEMSON — A peace offering, perhaps?
“Between Auburn, Missouri and Clemson,” said Jesse Palmer, “I actually think Clemson’s the best team.”
Public Enemy No. 1 for many Tigers fans — the Clemson kind, not those from the SEC — Palmer gave mad props to the No. 6 team in the BCS standings on ESPN’s weekly program announcing the standings.
The top three are solid — No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State, the nation’s only undefeateds left standing from major conferences — and then follow the elite one-loss squads.
Preferring Clemson to No. 4 Auburn and No. 5 Missouri, Palmer also did his part to bury the ‘Clemsoning’ term he’s helped popularize, the one that infers Clemson’s penchant for ruining great seasons with upset losses to inferior competition.
Palmer’s co-analyst, David Pollack, asked, “So Clemsoning is archaic now, then?” Palmer responded, “Uh, if it doesn’t happen against … I guess, yeah, two years now, it’s over.”
Clemson now has 18 straight wins by double digits over unranked opponents, the nation’s second-longest such streak trailing only the top-ranked Tide. Which is the real reason why Clemson’s as highly-rated as it is. On the flip side, the 10-1 Tigers haven’t beaten a single team presently in the BCS standings, Associated Press poll or USA Today coaches poll.
Because Florida State (11-0) is bound for the BCS national championship so long as it defeats Florida and its ACC title game opponent, Clemson seems a natural fit for the Orange Bowl, which prefers to select ACC members if they’re available. Duke is the only other ACC squad in the BCS standings, at No. 24.
Strange as it sounds, that means for all the significance of this huge game coming up Saturday in the state capital, Clemson’s bowl destination may be out of its hands. That won’t stop the Tigers, of course, from relishing their shot at South Carolina.
The Gamecocks (9-2) rose to No. 10 in the BCS standings, returning to the top 10 after a one-week exodus to No. 11. This is the first year in the BCS era both Clemson and South Carolina have been in the standings’ top 10 together, and they’ll get to face off with them each over the ledger Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
South Carolina’s bowl prospects, however, are far more muddled than its rival, based simply on the conference it plays in. A win over Clemson certainly would boost its profile, as it already has a win over No. 5 Missouri.
The Gamecocks can’t control their plans on Dec. 7, though. That depends on how Mizzou fares at home against No. 15 Texas A&M; if Missouri holds serve, it plays in its first-ever SEC championship game. If the visiting Aggies pull the upset, South Carolina represents the SEC East against the Alabama-Auburn winner.
South Carolina could put itself in position for a Sugar Bowl bid by grabbing its fifth straight win over Clemson, than avoiding a trip to Atlanta and therefore ending up with two regular season losses. Other bowl opportunities include the Capital One, Outback and Chick-fil-A Bowls.