Under the Dawgs: Clemson Football Eager to Prove Its Worth in 2024

Clemson football was once the hunted and the program that all but a select few strove to emulate.

Now, the Tigers have been relegated to an afterthought it seems, except to themselves. Just two and a half months away from their season opener against Georgia in Atlanta, not many in the world of college football are giving the Tigers a chance, against the Bulldogs or in the national championship discussion.

But Clemson football under Dabo Swinney has never been one to back down from a challenge or the doubters. Instead, the Tigers have adopted an attitude of ‘why not us?’ and nobody plays the underdog card better than Swinney.

Sure, Georgia has won two of the past three national championships. Yes, all of the pundits and prognosticators say Kirby Smart has supplanted Dabo Swinney in terms of coaching supremacy. Granted, Clemson has not exactly lived up to its own lofty expectations the past three seasons. Still, that is only serving as motivation.

The Tigers have been to the mountaintop, and they want to go back. It starts with the vaunted Bulldogs. So, why not Clemson football? Why can’t the Tigers return to the promised land? It is not as if Clemson has been wandering through the proverbial football desert for 40 years. How soon people forget that in the past decade the Tigers have won eight ACC titles, been to the play-offs six times, played for four national titles, and won two of them.

The talent is there. It needs only to manifest itself in the way it is capable. Can Cade Klubnik take the next and final step toward elite status at quarterback in his third season in Tiger Town? Will the wide receiver corps return to its status as a dominant unit? The defense is, of course, stacked and Phil Mafah is ready to carry the load as RB1.

The pieces are on the table and the Tigers only have to put them together. If they do, and do it by August 31st, then Georgia may be just the first in a line of fodder on Clemson’s redemption tour.

As the saying goes, you can’t keep a good man down. Or a good team, in this case. Clemson football is a very good team, in fact. And a hungry one. There is a sense that some within its own fan base have begun to doubt and question over the past several seasons, and I do not believe that is completely unwarranted.

Most of all, Dabo Swinney and his team want to prove their own wrong, as well.

With the college football play-offs having expanded to 12 teams, there is a more than clear path for the Tigers to make it back for the first time since 2020. There is also reason to believe they can win it all. Will they? Nobody can peer into a crystal ball and make that prediction. Odds are greater that they won’t, but that is just the nature of sports. So much has to go right.

But Clemson can. They did before and certainly have the potential to do it again. Oh, and the last time Clemson and Georgia met, it was the eventual national champion Bulldogs who won a thriller 10-3. Do not think for an instant Coach Swinney and the Tigers have forgotten. Nothing would be more satisfying than to chain the Dawgs up in their own backyard.

As the countdown irreversibly continues towards a new season, hope springs eternal in the foothills of South Carolina. They say Clemson is where the Blue Ridge yawns its greatness. Clemson football is a sleeping giant ready to awaken from its slumber once more. The Tigers labor only under their own expectations, and certainly not under the Dawgs’ paw.

Bring it on!

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