In recent years, Clemson has been no stranger to the spotlight that comes with big games.
Heading into another nationally televised, primetime, top-five matchup with Louisville on Saturday night in Death Valley, Clemson’s experience on that type of stage is invaluable.
“These guys, they’ve been in lots of these moments,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
Last year alone, Clemson played in a handful of the biggest games of the college football season.
During the regular season, Clemson was the site of ESPN’s College Gameday telecast for a top-12 contest against Notre Dame, which the Tigers won 24-22.
In the postseason, all eyes were on Clemson during its ACC championship game against North Carolina, College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma and national championship game against Alabama.
Clemson is also very accustomed to handling the hoopla and distractions that come with being the site of College Gameday.
Saturday’s game will mark the fifth time the program has been shown from Bowman Field, and the fourth time in the last four years.
Clemson is second to only Alabama in serving as host to Gameday over the last four years. Alabama has done it five times.
This will be Clemson’s seventh time (including road and neutral site games) being a part of a Gameday broadcast since 2013. That ranks fourth behind Alabama (10), Florida State (9) and Michigan State (8).
Swinney said that having been in this situation plenty of times before, Clemson knows what winning a game like this requires in terms of focus and preparation.
“Our guys have been in games like this,” Swinney said, “and understand what it takes.”
Swinney believes that’s the biggest difference between his teams the past couple of seasons as opposed to his 2011 team, for instance, which started the season 8-0 before losing to Georgia Tech in a night game and then dropping two of its final three regular season games.
“I mean eight years ago when we started, we hadn’t really had many opportunities like this consistently,” Swinney said. “I think that was one of the things in 2011 — we didn’t really know how to handle that type of success and all that came with it.”
More times than not, Clemson has come out on the winning side of games like the one against Louisville this Saturday.
Saturday’s game will mark just the second matchup of top-five teams in the history of Memorial Stadium, but Clemson is approaching the game the way it does each week.
“They haven’t lost many games in their career, but they’ve lost enough to know that you have to bring it each and every week,” Swinney said. “We have a great respect here for how we get ready, and that’s what we try to stay focused on.”