When it comes to sports, nothing really surprises me. A team could be projected to lose because they’re down by an obscene amount of points. Only to then make a comeback and win the game, or series, or championship. I guess I’ve gotten into the habit of not believing what I’m seeing too quickly. That said, there were two games on Saturday night that might just end up defining this college football season. Is that even possible? I guess we will find out. What were these plays and why was it such a big deal?
Clemson’s worst nightmares became a reality. Trevor Lawrence went down because of a concussion, and Chase Brice was forced into action. The Tigers ran off 13 plays, including a breathtaking 20-yard completion by Brice on fourth-and-6, and kept their playoff hopes alive with a 27-23 win over Syracuse. But only barely. In Ohio, we saw much of the same. Dwayne Haskins spent the week hearing the hype about a Heisman Trophy and his chances to be a one-and-done starter before the NFL comes calling. But by the fourth quarter against Penn State, he had done next to nothing to prove all the buzz was warranted – but then something happened.
Penn State dropped a punt at the Ohio State 4 yard line, and on the first play, it was clear what would happen. Haskins threw a pass to J.K. Dobbins that went for 35 yards and then the Buckeyes were back in the game. The drive ended with another pass to K.J. Hill, who ran 24 yards for the end zone.
Is this something to be worried about? Maybe. What it demonstrates is that these two teams have weaknesses. While other teams can’t control when someone gets injured (hopefully), they can adjust their game when they know that particular player is going to be out for the game. The other thing to think about is how this could have impacted the playoffs. While these two teams were able to keep the hope of a post-season alive, it’s not necessarily that simple. In fact, the entire landscape of college football has changed this season so we might be counting the chickens a bit too early in this case.
The quarterback situation at Clemson looked a bit dire before Brice converted a fourth and six to save the season against Syracuse. But maybe that’s their problem in the first place – they place too much emphasis on the quarterbacks. If you look at a team like Alabama, they have an unstoppable defense. Well, most of the time.
What does this mean for Clemson? When last season ended, they had Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson, and Brice all on their roster. They also had committed Lawrence as well. Saturday, they were one injury away from having to call in a wide receiver to throw for them. That’s not really a good thing. Right now Lawrence is in concussion protocol, so it’s possible that he won’t be able to play against Wake Forest next week. Meaning, Bruce is going to have to step it up again with no safety net to fall back on. This might not be good for Clemson if they want to make it to a postseason matchup.