COLUMBIA, S.C. - Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers extended their winning streak to 27 straight games with a 38-3 rout of in-state rival SC, suggested in one of his vintage rants that his team is being unfairly held by some to a different standard in the College Football Playoff race.
"There's some other weak leagues, as people say". And he argued that the perceived bias is why the Tigers have to be flawless.
"How important is this game?" They don't want us in there anyway. We'd drop to 20 [had Clemson lost to South Carolina].
His voice dripping with emotion, Swinney said Saturday's win was huge from a national standpoint because "Obviously, if we lose this game, they are going to kick us out".
They'll lose Bryan Edwards, one of the best receivers in school history, so getting Smith back will be a big boost. We gotta go, we gotta go 30-0.
However, coaches will do everything possible to motivate their players, and if "we are being disrespected" works for Clemson, Dabo could also continue to use it. "So it's big from a national standpoint, but it's huge for this state and it's huge for our program".
Dabo Swinney does not retract his stance of "Clemson is being disrespected". And last season, the Tigers won their second national title in three years with a 15-0 record.
However, the major flaw in Clemson's playoff resume is its schedule, which is likely why there is less room for error compared with other teams. Its strength of schedule is now ranked 69th, and that's significantly lower than several other playoff contenders, like Georgia (7th), LSU (36th), Oklahoma (45th), Ohio State (46th), Utah (49th) and Alabama (54th).
Also, none of its opponents are now ranked - though Virginia, the ACC Coastal champ, might slid into the top 25 after beating No. 24 Virginia Tech this week ahead of the conference title game.
"It's hard to do, and there's only three undefeated teams in America", Swinney said.
"There's nobody been more consistent than us".
"I will not let anyone diminish what we have achieved as a program", Swinney said in the ACC teleconference. Maybe we need some of them ACC guys on some of them big network shows.
"But all I can tell you is we 10-1 versus the SEC in our last 11, and we've won 115 games this decade". Our program is what people don't focus on. V-Tech, they'd be whatever they are, 8-4 in any league. Wake Forest, they'd be 8-3. But at the end of the day, it's not my job to build a good league.
Not only is the rivalry on the line for Clemson football, but so are the Tigers' CFB Playoff hopes.
The Tigers now hold a 26-game winning streak overall and the only obstacle left in their path before the ACC Championship game is in-state rival SC.
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