After winning the program’s first national title in 35 years, playing for the national championship two years in a row and winning back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference Championships for the first time in 28 years, what incentive could the 2017 seniors on the Clemson football team possibly have left to play for?
Obviously, they would like to repeat as national champions. And of course they would like becoming the first group of Clemson seniors to win three straight ACC titles since the 1986-’88 teams did it. But they also have an opportunity to do something no senior class in the history of college football has ever done – win 52 games in four years.
However, they’ll have to do it with a small class, while relying on their underclassmen teammates to help as well.
“We don’t have as many seniors this year,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Actually, Clemson has seven seniors this year, the smallest senior class Swinney has had in his nine full seasons at Clemson. The thing is, all seven seniors are fifth-year guys – linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, safety Korrin Wiggins, cornerback Marcus Edmond, cornerback Ryan Carter, right guard Tyrone Crowder, reserve offensive lineman Maverick Morris and reserve tight end D.J. Greenlee.
Clemson’s 2017 seniors are currently 38-5 in their first three seasons. The national record is 51 set by the 2016 seniors at Alabama. That means, if the Tigers go 14-1 for a third straight year, it will break the mark set by last year’s Alabama team.
However, keep in mind Alabama’s rising seniors are 40-4 the last three years and they need just 12 wins to set a new mark. Alabama currently owns the No. 1 (2013-’16) and No. 2 (2012-’15) spots on the list. With Ohio State (2012-’15) and Boise State (2008-’11) tied for second. Alabama’s 2016 senior class was 51-6 in their four years in Tuscaloosa.
Clemson’s 2016 senior class tied the ACC record for wins in a four-year period. The group finished with a 49-7 record for its 56 games, tying the record of 49 wins by Florida State’s senior class of 2015. The 2016 total was three more than any other Clemson senior class.
With the 2017 senior class already holding 38 wins in the bank, a 12-win season in 2017 will make it the ACC record holder with an even 50. Twelve wins would also make Clemson’s 2017 seniors just the fifth senior class nationwide to have 50 wins in a four-year period.