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Swinney keeps paving new roads

In his eight full seasons as head coach, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has accomplished things that have never been done by a Clemson football coach.

Sure, Danny Ford won a national championship. Yes, Frank Howard won six ACC titles. Yes, both Howard and Ford beat some of the heavyweights of college football and both had undefeated teams and won major bowl games.

However, neither did it with the consistency in which Swinney has done.

In the last six seasons, Clemson had produced a 10-win season every year, including back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2012 and ’13 and then back-to-back 14-win seasons in 2015 and ’16. Only Alabama has produced more 10-win seasons this decade.

Under Swinney’s leadership, the Tigers have won 70 games since 2011, the best six-year stretch in Clemson history. When the Tigers beat Ohio State Buck­eyes on New Year’s Eve, it gave Swinney a bowl-win in five consecutive seasons – a first for a Clemson coach.

However, these are not run of the mill bowl wins. Swinney became the first coach in history to defeat a coach in a bowl game who already had a national championship on his résumé for five straight years. He then added to the accomplishment by beating Nick Saban and Alabama in the National Championship game in Tampa, Fla., the following week.

In all, Clemson has five wins in bowl games over teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation over the last five years, more than any other school, including Alabama who is second with four wins over top 10 teams in bowl games since 2012.

Clemson also has more top 10 wins in bowl games over the last five years than all the other ACC teams combined. Florida State has two, Georgia Tech has one and Louisville has one since 2012.

In case you didn’t know, Swinney also has 20 wins over top 25 teams, which ties him with Ford, who had a 20-12-2 record against top 25 teams from 1978-89. In the last two years alone, Swinney has recorded nine wins over top 25 teams, four in 2015 and five in 2016. That includes six top 10 wins, four of whom were in the top five.

For his nine seasons as Clemson coach, Swinney has six top five wins, 12 top 10 victories, 15 top 15 wins, and 17 top 20 victories. Only seven of the 20 wins have come in Death Valley. Three have come on the op­ponent’s home field and 10 at neutral sites, including the Fiesta Bowl win over the Buckeyes and then the national championship win over the Crimson Tide.

To further illustrate what Swinney has built at Clemson, in the last two seasons, the Tigers are 9-1 against top 25 teams with the only losses com­ing to Alabama in the National Championship game at the end of the 2015 season. Of course, Clemson avenged that loss by beating the Crimson Tide in the 2017 Championship Game.

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