Diondre Overton

Clemson wide receiver Diondre Overton (14) celebrates a touchdown against Boston College with Joseph Ngata (10) on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, at Death Valley. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

CLEMSON — Hey, you over-worried (and somewhat bored) Clemson fans. Concerned that a soft schedule will give the Tigers a hard time with the College Football Playoff committee before the first 2019 rankings are released on Nov. 5?

Or against a theoretically more qualified semifinal foe on Dec. 28?

Don’t fret.

And you Clemson haters, you fan bases of potential Tiger playoff foes?


Clemson will be fine.

A 59-7 ACC victory over Boston College on Saturday night at Death Valley serves as the latest evidence.

"This is a monster," Steve Addazio, in his seventh season as Boston College head coach, said of Clemson before leaving the rout for a route to an airport. 

Theory: A steady diet of Clemson vs. Clemson makes Clemson not only a very good team but a solid pick to return to the national championship game.

People keep forgetting that the Tigers were scheduled to face Clemson all spring, most of August and again this week as they improved to 8-0.

Orange iron sharpens orange iron until its red hot.

"That's one of the top elite teams in America," Addazio said. "Absolutely. Unquestionably. Whatever anybody else was saying, I don't know what they're talking about."

Travis Etienne gets better running against a surprisingly elite defense that coordinator Brent Venables has rebuilt and continues to tweak after losing linemen Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant in the first round of the NFL draft.

The slick secondary makes strides almost daily by going against the rocket right arm of 6-6 sophomore Trevor Lawrence and a bunch of NFL-bound wide receivers.

And so on.

"That's what it's about this time of year," Jeff Scott, Clemson's co-offensive coordinator, said Saturday night. "It's about getting better and better." 

Sure, the ACC is a team that’s won two of the last three national titles and a fire down below.

There’s nothing like a bad ACC Coastal Division game for good entertainment.

But it’s not Clemson’s fault the ACC stinks this season. Or that the meaningless Associated Press poll says No. 4.

The only thing the Tigers can do is go into games as five-touchdown favorites — as they did Saturday night — and beat Boston College (4-4) by 52.

Chapel Hill aberration

It’s true, Ohio State practices against Ohio State.

They don’t bring in Ohio University or Miami of Ohio. Though probably tempted, the Buckeyes have yet to invite the Cincinnati Bengals to Columbus to take it easy on themselves.

Unlike most of the other playoff contenders, however, Clemson knows how to handle the care and feeding of a playoff run.

Here comes November after Clemson spent October demonstrating that almost losing in Chapel Hill on the last weekend of September was an aberration.

Not unlike the Tigers almost winning a basketball game in the same town.

Or, as Swinney said after the game, “We know how to win.”

That's disposable coach-speak — except when the guy is right.

Maybe Lawrence was slightly suffering from an arm bruise against North Carolina.

No matter.

Lawrence completed his first nine pass attempts Saturday night to eight different receivers. He finished 16 of 19 with 275 yards passing and three touchdowns.

It's also looking like a 21-20 win might be the best thing that could have happened to these guys. Just before the Tigers left their Upstate hotel Saturday afternoon, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott offered some last words.

"Who cares what people are saying," he told the team. "But if you want the respect you deserve, go out and earn it."

No. 43 tops Alabama

About that Clemson strength-of-schedule …

Per the Sagarin computer it was No. 43 coming into Saturday.

Not as challenging as Northwestern (No. 1) or South Carolina (No. 2) but atop the likes of Oklahoma No. (48) and Alabama (No. 52).

Note, too, that the object of this autumn-long ordeal isn’t a top 10 schedule rank - it’s a playoff trip.

But if comparing Clemson to overmatched opponents isn’t exciting enough, try comparing the Tigers offense to the Tigers defense on the way to a fifth straight playoff appearance.

Better yet, watch a replay of Etienne’s 19-yard run in the first quarter Saturday night. Boston College redshirt junior Max Richardson is a good linebacker, maybe one of the best in the ACC. But he’s not used to dealing with one of the best two or three running backs in the country while trying to fend off a block by right guard Gage Cervenka.

Etienne and Cervenka hone their skills by going against Clemson’s deep defensive line and the steadily excellent linebacker group of Isaiah Simmons, James Skalski and Chad Smith.

Among others.

The regularity of Clemson starters and reserves mixing it up in practice might not help one little bit with the playoff committee or register on a strength-of-schedule computer.

But it’s why the Tigers continue to pummel opponents on the way to the schedule that matters: a semifinal date in Atlanta or Glendale.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.

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