Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Clemson comes to Georgia Tech. Could the Tigers actually lose?


Georgia Tech has played three games on two continents -- Ireland is technically an island, but it counts as Europe -- but its season begins now. Tech is 3-0. No news there. The only news would be if Tech weren't 3-0.

Here are the opponents the Yellow Jackets have bested: Boston College, the ACC's worst team by some distance; Mercer, which was facing its first opponent from a Power Five conference since 1942, when the Power Five wasn't actually a thing, and Vanderbilt, which would be the SEC's worst team by some distance if Kentucky didn't exist.

Next up is Clemson, and this would have figured to be a Tigers walkaway 16 days ago. But Clemson hasn't yet been the Clemson we expected. It was life-and-death to beat Auburn at Jordan-Hare, and if those Tigers lose to LSU on Saturday to fall to 1-3, they'll be in the market for a new coach. The men of Dabo couldn't distance themselves from Troy, though Troy isn't awful. (It just beat Southern Miss, which beat, ahem, Kentucky.)

The weekend saw Clemson thump South Carolina State 59-0. We note that the Bulldogs have been outscored 150-24 on the season. We note that Buddy Pough, their coach, acquiesced to shortening the second half from the usual 30 minutes to 24. (One minute -- two 30-second quarters -- would have sufficed.) We also note that Pough had just seen this:

Not that Clemson has any cause to cluck over a kick-related malfunction. We reference this:

The point being: Clemson hasn't yet resembled the colossus it was a year ago. This is not uncommon: Florida State was expected to roll through 2014, same as it had 2013; Ohio State was supposed to array the 2015 national title alongside the one it had won the year before. Neither happened. Neither alleged Super Team was, in fact, super.

The difference being: FSU and Ohio State were defending national champions; Clemson is only defending its 2015 ACC title. If Clemson is going to shake its hangover, it better do it before Thursday night. Strange things can happen on the road -- might ask Florida State about its trip to Louisville, or about its last venture into Bobby Dodd Stadium -- and Tech is capable of giving the Tigers, who've slid from No. 2 in preseason to No. 5 in this week's rankings, a run.

This admonition shouldn't be taken as a prediction. The checkers aren't equal. If Clemson plays at or near capacity, it will win. But the longer the Tigers go without finding their mojo, the more we wonder if it's gone for good.

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Super fun reading:

Mercy! Tech's defense didn't exactly shut down Mercer.

Justin Thomas sits for a half. Tech wins anyway.

MB's Top 25: Clemson is No. 1.

Football Outsiders: Tech to go 6-6, UGA 10-2.

What a football-first Tech AD might ask Paul Johnson.

Mike Bobinski's legacy at Georgia Tech: There isn't one.

Who's picking the over on W's for Tech and UGA? Why, me.

Is picking Tech sixth in the Coastal really so crazy?

Pigskin Pickin' 2016: UGA to go 10-2, Tech 7-5.

It's April, and already Paul Johnson is ticked.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.