ORLANDO, Fla. — Moments after losing last year’s national championship game to Alabama, Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware said the Tigers were going to get back to College Football Playoff, and finish what they started a season ago.
Thanks to Saturday’s 42-35 victory over No. 18 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers are one step closer to achieving that goal. Clemson more than likely will see its name shown with the top four teams when the College Football Playoff Committee announces its four playoff teams this afternoon on ESPN.
“We definitely want to get some revenge and finish the right way and go out on top,” Boulware said after the Tigers’ win from Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. “We are going to figure out who we play tomorrow and start game planning for that game wherever it is at. Whether it is in (Arizona), Clemson, Atlanta or wherever the hell the game is at, I don’t care. I just want to play the game. I just want to play football.
“I’m happy we are still alive. We still have some more fight in us.”
After the win over the Hokies, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told his team they are four quarters away from a national championship game.
“We have another chance,” defensive tackle Carlos Watkins said. “We have to see who we play next and just stay focused. We just have to continue doing what we are doing and finish strong.”
Sweet 16. Clemson won its 16th ACC championship its victory over Virginia Tech and now has the most ACC titles in the conference, one more than Florida State. It was Clemson’s 22nd conference title in school history dating back to 1896 when the program began.
This is the first time Clemson has won back-to-back ACC titles since the 1986-’88 seasons when Clemson won three in a row. This is Clemson’s third ACC title in the last sixth years after going 20 years in between titles.
Clemson and Dabo Swinney are now 3-1 in ACC Championship games, including three consecutive victories, two over Virginia Tech.
18 and counting. Saturday was Swinney’s 18th career win over a top 25 team (ranked in either AP of Amway Coaches Poll). The record is 20 by Danny Ford between 1978-‘89.
Perfect against the Hokies: Clemson has now won four straight games over Virginia Tech after losing five straight. Swinney is 4-0 against Virginia Tech.
Tough schedule. This was Clemson’s 10th win this season over a bowl eligible team, most in the nation and most in Clemson history for a single season. It is expected that all 10 will play in bowl games this year.
Good year. Clemson enters the bowl season with a 12-1 record. This is just the third team in Clemson history with at least 12 wins. Clemson’s 1981 National Championship team finished 12-0 and last year’s team was 14-1.
Two from the record. Deshaun Watson earned his 30th victory as Clemson’s starting quarterback Saturday, and is now 30-3 as a starter. The record for wins is 32 held by Rodney Williams (1985-88) and Tajh Boyd (2010-13).
More records. Watson completed a school-record 19 consecutive passes dating back to the South Carolina game last week. He completed his last nine against the Gamecocks and his first 10 in Saturday’s game.
Watson also threw for three touchdowns Saturday, moving him ahead of Tajh Boyd for the Clemson record with 37 passing touchdowns in a season.
Leggett is the best. Tight end Jordan Leggett passed Dwayne Allen (2011) for the single-season receiving yardage record by a Clemson tight end, finishing with four catches for 49 yards. Leggett is the first Tiger tight end to post at least 600 receiving yards in a season.
Leggett tied former Tiger wideout Terry Smith for sixth in Clemson history with his 18th touchdown catch in the second quarter as well. He had two in the ACC Championship Game.
Career leader. Artavis Scott tied Sammy Watkins for the career receptions record at Clemson, putting him at 240 in just three seasons.
Scott caught a pass in his 36th consecutive game, tying Jerry Butler and DeAndre Hopkins for the school record as well.
Big Dex beats the Fridge. Dexter Lawrence had a career-high two sacks, giving him seven for his freshman season. He tied Chester McGlockton (1989) and Michael Dean Perry (1984) for the Clemson freshman record, but both were redshirt players while Lawrence is in his first year.
Sack one up for Watkins. Carlos Watkins recorded a sack, giving him 8.5 for the season, the most by a Clemson defensive tackle since Vance Hammond’s 8.5 in 1990.