CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Saturday night, top-ranked Clemson will kick off in its third straight ACC Championship game against No. 7 Miami, with an opportunity to clinch a bid to the College Football Playoff for the third consecutive season.
Since Dabo Swinney took over in 2008 the Tigers have gone on to the best run in school history. In that span, they have five Atlantic Division titles, three conference championships, a pair of playoff bids, and a national championship.
Under Swinney’s leadership the Clemson program has risen from mediocrity to a truly elite program. Saturday is yet another opportunity to prove itself in the top tier of the college football hierarchy.
After last season, the nation is on notice and continuing success in the face of adversity this season has further cemented the Tigers spot among the elite.
Friday afternoon the media got an opportunity to chat with the crew from ESPN’s College Gameday in advance of the top 10 showdown in the Queen City Saturday night to gain perspective on Clemson’s standing on the national scene.
Rece Davis, the host of the show, believes Clemson has transcended elite status and is making a case to be the best program in college football, right now.
“You could make an argument that Clemson is taking over the sport as the premier dynasty” he said.
Davis continued saying what Swinney and company have put together at Clemson can even be compared to Nick Saban’s Alabama.
“Now Alabama has been longer but if Clemson wins that’s three straight ACC Championships and made the playoff for the third straight year with a chance to go to back-to-back-to-back national championships” he said.
The Tigers (11-1) have certainly solidified themselves as the premier team in the ACC as of late appearing in four of the last seven championship games.
Kirk Herbstreit has noticed Clemson’s ascension to national prominence and considers it a top-tier program.
“I have had a front row seat to watch this and be behind the scenes with Dabo and his team go from being on the outside to now being in the upper tier,” Herbstreit said.
Herbstreit dates back to Clemson’s 25-24 win over LSU in the 2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, “they have to be right there, not just the last two years really back to the LSU game.”
Miami head coach Mark Richt has noticed what the Tigers have been able to do in recent years and hopes to emulate it with the Hurricanes. He knows it was not an overnight transition but a process.
“When you look at Clemson on tape, you’re like ‘wow look at these guys,’” said Richt. “You can tell they’ve been doing it for a while, not only recruiting well, but developing well for a while now.”
Clemson has an opportunity to prove itself once again on a primetime stage against seventh-ranked Miami. The number one Tigers’ kick off in a defacto quarterfinal game for a spot in the College Football Playoff and regardless of the recent history of the program it will be no easy task.