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Tigers begin ‘Championship Phase’ to the season

Oct 29, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney reacts to a second quarter call against against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Though ESPN and every college football fan in the world is anxiously awaiting tonight’s announcement of the first College Football Playoff Rankings, Dabo Swinney doesn’t care.

“If we lose this week, it will not matter where we are,” the Clemson head coach said during his weekly press conference. “It just does not matter. Everybody has to have somebody to talk about. Everybody has to have something to write about. That’s what makes the world go round and that’s what makes it fun.

“People want to watch good programing and have to deal with hypotheticals with the ‘if this’ and ‘if that.’ That just is not our world. For us, we have to take care of business.”

And if the Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) do take care of business there will be no pizza party like last year, primarily because Orlando—site of the ACC Championship Game—is too far away to get back in time for the selection show. But right now, those things are the furthest from Swinney’s mind.

“We just have to take care of business. Let’s just find a way to get to 9-0,” Swinney said. “If we can take care of business, then in late November and December, they matter … Somebody is going to be in there tonight, but if you are in it, it does not mean you have a Golden Ticket, and if you are not in it, it does not mean you are out of it.

“Just keep playing. I just think it is a dangerous world to get into when you are a coach or a player. It is better to stay locked into what you are doing. It is a mad dash to the finish.”

That’s why Swinney calls this week “The Championship Phase” of the season. He said it has been 294 days since January 12—the day after losing to Alabama in the National Championship Game—since they started working to get to this point.

“You do all of that work, and now over the next 20 something days we have a chance to clinch a division title, opportunity for a state championship, play our way into an ACC Championship, win an ACC Championship and then you are in position for a playoff opportunity.

“There is a lot at stake here. There is a lot. Again, it is about playing our best football and applying the lessons we have learned to this point. It is a mad dash to the finish line.”

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