Dabo Swinney looked a little perplexed when an Ohio television station reporter asked the Clemson head coach following Saturday’s scrimmage, “How did those two wins over Ohio State get you to where you are today, one in route to a championship?”
With a little grin, Swinney politely said, “I don’t think those two wins over Ohio State got us to where we are. They were just part of the journey that we have been on.”
It was an odd question considering it came after the defending national champions’ first scrimmage of fall camp. Usually, following a scrimmage, Swinney is taking questions about how it went and what quarterback looked the best? Instead, he was fielding a question about the Ohio State Buckeyes.
It was weird because the Buckeyes had nothing to do with Clemson’s success the last six years other than being a team the Tigers beat. It’s not like Ohio State rolled over and said, “Here you Clemson! Go ahead and kick our butts. We want you to have it.”
No, Clemson beat Ohio State, twice. And both wins had nothing to do with the Buckeyes and everything to do with Clemson. In his five years at Ohio State, head coach Urban Meyer is 61-6. However, he is 61-4 against everyone not named Clemson.
Swinney handled the situation well. He gave the Buckeyes credit for being a great program and no doubt they were big wins, but that’s all they were they were wins. They weren’t “the only reasons” Clemson became a national power, which was how the question was perceived.
“What got us to where we are is a bunch of players buying into the way we do things and a lot of big wins,” Swinney said.
Exactly! A lot of big wins. Granted, the Tigers beat Ohio State twice, first in the 2014 Orange Bowl and then last year’s 31-0 blowout in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl. However, Clemson has also beaten LSU, Oklahoma (twice), Georgia, Auburn (three times), Notre Dame and Florida State (three times) in the last six years.
And of course, let’s not forget the biggest win of them all – a 35-31 victory over an Alabama team that had won 16 straight games over AP top 25 teams, the longest streak in the poll era which began in 1936. The win over the Crimson Tide, of course, gave the Tigers its first national championship since 1981.
But not even the win over Alabama was given to Clemson. The Tigers earned it, just like they did in the two wins over Ohio State. Those wins over the Buckeyes did not help Clemson get anywhere, Ohio State just happened to be the obstacle that stood in the way.
“Certainly those were a couple of big wins along the way against two great teams, but just part of the journey that we have been on,” Swinney said.
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