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Dr. Saturday

Doc 5: Top five late season collapses -- No. 5 Clemson

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.

With the calendar turning over to May this week, we’re only four months away from the start of the 2014 college football season.

Since May Day is not really celebrated much these days, we turned our focus for this week’s Doc Five toward “mayday,” you know, the distress signal used on boats in emergency situations.

How does that apply to college football?

It doesn’t exactly, but it got us thinking about teams over the past 15 seasons who have got off to fast starts but collapsed down the stretch and needed to signal in a mayday.


No. 5 – 2011 Clemson

The 2011 Clemson Tigers were absolutely loaded with young talent on offense.

Many of those elite athletes are primed for NFL careers or are already suiting up on Sundays. Everywhere sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd looked, he had playmakers wearing orange. Current Arizona Cardinal Andre Ellington was manning the backfield, while true freshman Sammy Watkins, who was teamed up with sophomore DeAndre Hopkins, had arrived on campus and was ready to make an impact.

The young Tigers started the season unranked, but quickly rose up to No. 8 in the AP Poll with wins over three straight ranked teams: Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech. After three more wins, the Tigers were 8-0 heading into a matchup with 6-2 Georgia Tech.

What happened next was a full blown act of Clemsoning. The Tigers' defense had nightmares with the Yellow Jackets’ triple option and suffered their first loss of the year, 31-17.

The Tigers rebounded to clinch the ACC Atlantic Division the next week with a narrow win over Wake Forest, but finished the season with back-to-back blowout losses on the road to a 5-5 NC State team and No. 14 South Carolina. The porous Tigers defense gave up a combined 71 points and 818 total yards.

Things looked bleak for the 9-3 Tigers, but Dabo Swinney’s squad rebounded impressively in the ACC Championship Game, knocking off No. 5 Virginia Tech for the second time in the season and clinching the school’s first-ever BCS berth.

An ACC title would ordinarily be enough to keep a team off a list like this, but the Orange Bowl was an absolute disaster for Clemson. A team that had national title aspirations not too long before it was obliterated.

In an embarrassing 70-33 loss to No. 23 West Virginia, the Clemson defense made WVU quarterback Geno Smith and wide receiver Tavon Austin look like the best players in the country. Smith threw for 407 yards and six touchdowns – four of which went to Austin – as the Mountaineers put up the most points ever scored in a bowl game.

Clemson had an entire month to prepare for the WVU passing attack, but still let up 49 points in the first half and 595 yards for the game. Coupled with the three losses in the previous four games, it's a collapse of epic proportions.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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