THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE: What effect will reduced fans have on Clemson Football in 2020?
- 2020-09-11 13:15:47
The big question is, what effect will this have on a sport in which the fans are connected to the players like no other and in many cases integral to upsets by the home team? In my opinion, the lack of fans in the stands will be a big advantage for the Tigers, who have already dominated their competition on the road over the last 5 years, even in front of raucous, hostile fans. Remarkably, the Tigers have only lost one road game over the last 5 years—a Friday the 13th game at Syracuse in which starting QB Kelly Bryant and starting kicker Greg Huegel were both injured the week before. Backup kicker Austin Spence missed two easy field goals, and the Tigers lost by 3 points! Meanwhile, the Tigers went into countless hostile venues like Jordan-Hare, Kyle Field, Doak Campbell, Lane Stadium and many more, emerging victorious over and over. How much easier will it be for the Tigers to waltz into empty or mostly empty stadiums, take care of business and walk out with a win? As for home games, the Tigers may not have as great an advantage as their accustomed to with only 19,000 fans in Death Valley, but I don’t expect that to matter. In the old days, it certainly helped the Tigers pull off upsets over teams like FSU that were superior in talent, but now Clemson is the team with the massive talent and coaching advantage, and that is all they will need at home and on the road. Plus, the toughest team the Tigers will play at home this season is Miami, and they will be heavily favored in that game despite QB transfer D’Eriq King. Pitt will coming as well, and although the Panthers were the last team to beat Clemson in Death Valley back in November of 2016 when the Tigers were ranked No.2 and went on to win the national title, I don’t expect a repeat of that fluke, even with 19,000 fans. Conversely, the Tigers’ tougher games this season are on the road. Their biggest test will be a November top-10 showdown against Notre Dame in South Bend, and they also play at FSU and at VA Tech in November. The reduced attendance in all three of those games will benefit the Tigers.
To sum it up, in my opinion reduced attendance will result in an even greater disparity between Clemson and everyone else in the ACC than we have seen in the last 5 years, even though the conference is much tougher than last year top-to-bottom. There still isn’t a single team that can match the Tigers’ depth of talent, and without the home field advantage at work, it will be that much tougher for opponents to pull off the upset UNC almost did last year. Dabo has been saying for years, “Championships are won with no fans in the stands.” Those words might be truer in 2020 than ever before!
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