DURHAM, N.C. — Clemson can do nothing about its schedule.
The Tigers have been hurt by their weak of strength of schedule in the computer polls and in the minds of some poll voters. It has kept Clemson from a higher ranking in the BCS standings, where the Tigers remained ranked 13th on Sunday despite a decisive 56-20 victory over Duke on Saturday night.
Clemson (8-1, 5-1 ACC) does not have a win against a team ranked in the top 25 of the polls. Clemson’s best win this season, according to the Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings, came against Virginia Tech, which he ranks 59th in the country.
The schedule is not going to improve as Clemson closes out ACC play.
Clemson faces Maryland (4-5, 2-3) on Saturday, which is ranked 111th in the country by Sagarin. On Nov. 17th Clemson hosts 74th-ranked N.C. State. Clemson will not get a chance to compete against a ranked team until South Carolina travels to Memorial Stadium on Nov. 24.
The Tigers can’t control that Auburn has struggled or that the ACC has had another down year.
What the Tigers can control is how decisively they defeat opponents. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said “style points” following the win over Duke. Boyd said the Tigers’ goal is a BCS bowl berth. To win over the hearts and minds of poll voters and Sugar Bowl officials, Clemson figures to have to win its games in convincing manner this November if it is to secure a BCS bowl at large berth.
Boyd was asked if team talked about the importance of margin of victory.
“It is not really being said like that,” Boyd said. “But we are all adults. We see. We watch TV.
“We are just trying to play the way we are capable of. If it works out that we score this amount of points that’s cool. ... If we are able to do a certain amount that’s what we need to do to try and put ourselves in the best situation.”
Clemson’s campaign to impress voters through victory margin is off to a good start as the Tigers have outscored its opponents 98 to 33 the last two weeks.
Boyd said such performances are evidence of Clemson playing more consistently up to internal standards.
“I think we are starting to play to our level of capability every week,” Boyd said. “Playing to a standard, not worried about the external factors, the crowd, the weather, the atmosphere, things that have kind of deterred us in the past.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked about the importance of margin of victory following Clemson’s rout of the bowl-eligible Blue Devils.
“We are just trying to win, whether it is three to two or its six to twenty, we just want to win,” Swinney said. “It’s more about just playing to our level. When you have a chance to dominate an opponent if you are capable, play to that level. I thought our guys were excellent.”
Of course the impact of margin of victory is more limited today as it has been removed as a part of the BCS computers’ equation.
Still, to Boyd, style points matter.
“If you’re supposed to be a certain type of team you have to perform that level,” Boyd said.
Injury update: Clemson running back Andre Ellington (hamstring) is expected to be OK and play vs. Maryland. Tight end Brandon Ford (abdominal injury) is questionable.