Today marks the last game Clemson will play in Death Valley until next September.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s the last game in the Valley,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “The season has flown by. You work all year, and it seems like these seven Saturdays go by quicker every year. So I’m a little sad about that, but I’m embracing where we are on the journey.”
Where the second-ranked Tigers are on their journey is right where they wanted to be when the season began. Clemson has already wrapped up the ACC’s Atlantic Division and will play in its third straight ACC Championship Game in two weeks.
The Tigers (9-1) are three wins away from reaching the College Football Playoff for a third consecutive year.
“I’m really, really proud of this team, regardless of what happens the rest of the way,” Swinney said. “This football team has been fun to coach, and they have responded all year long, even coming off of a National Championship and all that comes with that.
“Knowing that you’re going to get every ounce of everybody’s best week in and week out, they just put the work in. I just can’t overstate that enough. If the season ended right now, today, I really am pleased with their effort. They’ve played hard.”
Today will also mark the last home game for Clemson’s six scholarship seniors, who have a chance to wrap up their careers with a remarkable 27-1 record in Death Valley, which would be a new record for a senior class. Those six seniors are linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, cornerback Marcus Edmond, offensive guard Tyrone Crowder, offensive guard Maverick Morris, cornerback Ryan Carter and tight end D.J. Greenlee.
“That’s always a little bit of an emotional time, because there’s some finality to it,” Swinney said. “These guys dream about playing college football, and some of them dream of playing at Clemson. You feel like you’re going to be here forever and then all of a sudden you get to be a senior, and you realize how quick it’s gone, and how fast life goes.
“It’s such a small moment in the scope of your life. It’s the blink of an eye. That’s what I try to remind our coaches about all the time, we’ve got to exhaust every opportunity we get to try to impact these players while we have a chance. They just come and go. It’s so fast.”
Swinney says the Tigers’ goal today against The Citadel is to put an explanation on the seniors’ careers at Death Valley.
“What a career they’ve had,” he said. “There’s an old saying that says ‘prosperity is a terrible teacher, but these old boys have had a lot of prosperity. But I think they have learned through that. And that’s a credit to the people in our program.
“But at 26-1, they’ve got a chance to set the all-time record … 27 wins [at home] would be the most wins ever for a senior group. So I’m excited about that, and obviously, the chance to get a tenth win overall.”