For the longest time when Clemson heard the words “Thursday Night Game” its players and coaches cringed at the thought.
Playing on ESPN’s Thursday Night telecasts were a nightmare for the Tigers as they lost nine of the first 10 they appeared on. But then Dabo Swinney came along, and things changed.
And though Swinney rather open the ACC part of his schedule on Saturday and preferably at home, he is okay with playing a game on a Thursday night.
“I think it is fun,” Swinney said.
Of course, like Swinney says, “The fun is in the winning.” And when it comes to Thursday Night games, Clemson is not cringing at the thought anymore. The Tigers have won their last five games on Thursday night, including last year’s 20-17 victory at Louisville.
Third-ranked Clemson will travel to Atlanta on Thursday to take on Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Swinney likes the Thursday night game because it is the only game in town.
“I think as a competitor you like opportunities like this to play and have the national audience,” he said. “I know as a coach, I like to watch the Thursday night games, I’ve always liked that. It is good for our guys to get a couple days of break on the back end of it.
“It is a challenge, I don’t like the short weeks upfront, I would rather have some time before a Thursday night, but it is what it is. It is the same for both sides.”
This is the fifth year in a row Clemson has played on a Thursday, all victories. It’s not the last short week of the year for Clemson, either. It has to turn around and do it again in two weeks when it plays at Boston College on Friday, Oct. 1.
“This is a harder thing to do, two games in five games,” Swinney said. “It is fun too. We embrace it. At the end of the day we like to play. We get to turn right around and go play. So I think that part of it is good.”
It also helps that the Tigers (3-0) are in pretty good shape from a health standpoint. They came out of Saturday’s win over S.C. State with no new injuries to anyone on the two-deep depth chart.
“It is fortunate that we are pretty healthy. If you play a game on Saturday and lose a couple of guys, a couple of days could make a difference with a guy being able to bounce back and play the next week, or not,” Swinney said. “Part of it is a challenge, but I think it is good, we embrace it. I enjoy when we play well. That is what I enjoy.
“We look forward to playing in front of the country on Thursday night, and hopefully we continue to improve.”
Clemson on ESPN Thursday Night Package (6-9)
Year W-L Cu-Opp Opponent (Rank)
1998 L 21-24 Georgia Tech (22)
1999 L 11-31 at Virginia Tech (19)
2002 L 31-48 at Florida State (11)
2002 L 6-38 NC State (9)
2003 L 15-17 at NC State
2004 L 10-30 at Virginia (12)
2005 W 31-10 at NC State
2006 L 7-24 at Virginia Tech
2008 L 7-12 at Wake Forest (21)
2009 L 27-30 at Georgia Tech (15)
2012 W 42-13 at Wake Forest
2013 W 26-14 at NC State
W 55-31 Georgia Tech
2014 W 34-20 at Wake Forest
2015 W 20-17 at Louisville