By Will Vandervort
Despite Saturday night’s 31-17 loss to No. 7 South Carolina, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says his Tigers deserve to be in the Bowl Championship Series, which will be announced a week from tonight.
Orange Bowl officials who were at the South Carolina game agree with him. They told The Clemson Insider before the contest that they would choose the Tigers to play in the January 3, 2014 bowl game in Miami, Fla. That sentiment was still holding true after the game as well and some are now projecting a Clemson vs. Alabama matchup after the Crimson Tide fell to rival Auburn.
“I still think we are one of the best teams in the country and that is a fact,” Swinney said. “We are one of the best teams in the country. We have been one of the more consistent teams in the country. I wish we would have won them all, but there are only a couple of undefeated teams.”
Clemson (10-2) has been one of the more consistent teams in the country this year and that is true. Until today, when they fell to No. 11 and No. 13 in the Coaches and the Associated Press Polls, the Tigers had been ranked 14 straight weeks in the top 10.
They won 10 games for the third straight season and have a shot at 11 wins for a second straight year with a victory in their bowl game. Clemson was also 7-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and has gone 21-6 in the conference the last three seasons.
“We want the very best possible bowl game we can get,” Swinney said. “Listen, the Chick-fil-A Bowl is great and I have no problems with that, but you have a chance to be in the BCS and I think we are one of the best teams in the country and I think we should be in the BCS.
“We were in the top 10 for 14 weeks this year, which is a school record and just out of the top 10 now and our two losses have been to two really good teams and one of them has a chance to play for the national championship.”
And when they take care of the football, the Tigers are one of the more exciting teams in the country to watch. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are two of the more explosive players in the country and add even more flare.
“We are exciting to watch and we are a team that can play with anyone in the country,” Swinney said. “We would love to be in the BCS and we think we deserve to be.”
Too many turnovers. Last season, Clemson had 21 turnovers and coming into Saturday’s game with the Gamecocks, the Tigers were on pace to beat that mark. Clemson had 16 turnovers coming in.
But something happened on the way to prosperity. The Tigers turned the ball over a season-high six times and now have 22 turnovers on the year. Clemson was one of the best teams in the country in turnover margin prior to the game.
The Tigers threw three interceptions as a team—two from Boyd—and fumbled the ball three times. One interception—Watkins’ pass to Adam Humphries on a trick play—and both fumbles on punt returns led to 21 South Carolina points.
Watkins’ interception and Boyd’s fumble with 8:38 to play in the game came at the USC 30-yard line and possibly cost the Tigers points.
“We just had a complete blow up in that area and I wish I could point to one thing,” Swinney said.
Morris’ contract talks. Last week, offensive coordinator Chad Morris told The Clemson Insider that he was going to talk to Swinney and Clemson this week about a possible extension to remain as the Tigers’ coordinator for at least another year.
On Sunday, Swinney was asked about Morris’ future with Clemson and what are the parameters when it comes to Morris talking with other schools.
“Those are things as they arise on your staff that you are always communicating,” Swinney said. “We have had no communication about anything like that, but if we have guys on our staff that have opportunities then the biggest thing is communication and everybody being on the same page.”
Swinney says no schools have asked to speak to Morris as of Sunday night.