The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Against Florida State, Clemson’s ‘Clemsoning’ was the most ‘Clemsoning’ Clemson ever Clemsoned

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, a man with a front-row seat to an epic night of Clemsoning. (Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press)

Top-ranked Florida State, without Jameis Winston, rallied for an overtime win Saturday, 23-17, over No. 22 Clemson. The game is sure to spawn innumerable articles and blog posts about Winston, the performance of his backup, Sean Maguire, and the Seminoles in general.

This isn’t one of those blog posts. This post is about “Clemsoning.” Or, as it trended on Twitter on Saturday night, #Clemsoning.

So what is “Clemsoning”? Well, it’s a term that’s made its way far enough into common parlance that it gets defined in Urban Dictionary. That Web site’s first definition reads thusly:

“The act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season.”

A helpful example of use within a phrase is then offered: “Oklahoma State’s overtime loss to an unranked Iowa State was a full-blown Clemsoning.”

The fact is, Clemson’s performance Saturday, in which it repeatedly declined opportunities to beat the No. 1 team in the country at their crib, was very much par for the course. It’s just what Clemson does, year after year. The team has an uncanny knack for putting together talented squads that inevitably become less than the sum of their parts.

The Web site Lost Lettermen cites, as an example of Clemsoning, the 2012 Orange Bowl, pitting Clemson against West Virginia. The Tigers had finally not done a lot of Clemsoning that season, winning the ACC for the first time in 20 years and reaching its first-ever BCS bowl game. So what did it do in that bowl game? Clemson got blown out, 70-33.

But we need not go back any further than Saturday to find immaculate examples of Clemsoning. In the third quarter, with the game tied at 10, the Tigers had a first-and-goal from the Seminoles 1-yard line. Here comes a touchdown, right? Wrong. Two extremely predictable running plays right up the middle went nowhere, but wait, there was a penalty on Florida State, giving Clemson another second-down play, mere inches from the goal line.

Then Clemsoning happened. The snap to quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was in a shotgun formation — raising the question, “Why are the coaches having you stand back in the shotgun when your team is on the goal line??!!” — sailed right past, and Watson could only sprint back and fall on the ball at the 24-yard line. Two plays and a missed field goal later, the Tigers had nothing to show for near-certain scoring position.

Suffice it to say that Twitter noticed.

And that was well before Clemson blew a stone-cold, no-doubt, mortal-lock chance to win the game near the end. The Tigers had a second-and-two at the Seminoles’ 18 with about a minute and a half left in the game. All they needed was a field goal to take a lead with very little time left, but there couldn’t be any harm in running the ball to try and get a shorter kick, right? Wrong. Fumble! So very much … well, you know what.

Oh, and that was before Clemson, with no reason to have any confidence in its kicker, went for it on fourth down in overtime, needing less than a yard. Sure enough, that got stuffed, and two players later, Florida State was celebrating.

At this point, it wasn’t enough to point out that Clemson had just Clemsoned in epic fashion. Now it was time to discuss other life experiences that could qualify as #Clemsoning.

And on it went. Congratulations, Clemson, not every college football team could add such a fun, new term to the lexicon.

Related Content

Culpepper: Winston suspension produces special night