Not many coaches outside of the Southeastern Conference have been as successful against SEC competition as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. In fact, no one has in the last five years.
When Swinney and his second-ranked Tigers line up to kick the ball off on Saturday at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, it will mark the 17th time in his eight years as Clemson’s head coach he has played a team from the SEC.
Swinney is 8-8 vs. SEC teams as Clemson’s head coach, including a 6-5 mark in the last five years. Of course everyone will remember how Clemson came within a play or two of knocking off Alabama in last year’s College Football Playoff Championship Game.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban admitted after the game his team was fortunate to win and he called a surprise onside kick after tying the game at 24 because his defense was tired and he didn’t think they could stop Deshaun Watson and the Clemson offense.
As Swinney and the Tigers get ready to head to the Plains and play Auburn, he says he is just looking forward to having another opportunity to play and win a game.
“I get excited about playing anybody and the opportunity to try and win,” he said. “For these guys, it is not going to mean anything. I’m not going to play in the game. It is certainly not a distraction or anything like that.”
Swinney’s teams don’t usually get distracted in these kinds of games. He has eight wins against SEC teams, including six in the last five years. His six wins over SEC teams since 2011, is the most in the country among non-SEC coaches.
Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher is second with five and Charlie Strong, now at the University of Texas, is third with four.
“When you kick the game off, it is like playing Alabama in the national championship. You are so locked into to the strategy of the game and decision making and things like that you don’t really know who is over there,” Swinney said. “You are just trying to beat that opponent.”
Swinney’s six wins over SEC teams since 2011 have come against four different teams. He has beaten South Carolina twice, Auburn twice, LSU once and Georgia once. Swinney is the only non-SEC coach to beat four different SEC teams over the last five years.
In fact, no other non-SEC coach has defeated more than two different SEC teams.
Dabo Swinney vs. the SEC as Clemson Head Coach (8-8)
Year Opponent W-L CU-Opp
2008: South Carolina won, 31-14
2009: at South Carolina lost, 17-34
Kentucky won, 21-13 (2009 Music City Bowl)
2010: at Auburn lost, 24-27 (OT)
South Carolina lost, 7-29
2011: Auburn won, 38-24
at South Carolina lost, 13-34
2012: Auburn won, 26-19 (Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic)
South Carolina lost, 17-27
LSU won, 25-24 (Chick-fil-A Bowl)
2013: Georgia won, 38-35
at South Carolina lost, 17-31
2014: at Georgia lost, 21-45
South Carolina won, 35-17
2015: at South Carolina won, 37-32
Alabama lost, 40-45 (College Football Playoff Championship Game)