Since its 58-point victory over The Citadel on Nov. 18, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has liked the way his team has been playing football.
“I know everybody will say, ‘Yeah, you are supposed to beat The Citadel, but we played so well in that game,” Swinney said. “That was a game where I was looking for some maturity. That was one of the things we were talking about that week. This team has been very focused. It has been very easy to coach and very easy to get ready.”
Since their thrashing of the Bulldogs, the top-ranked Tigers pounded rival South Carolina, who was ranked No. 24 at the time, by 24 points and followed that up with a 35-point win over then No. 7 Miami in the ACC Championship game.
“These guys have been locked in,” Swinney said. “I will definitely say that we are kind of playing our best football right now. We carried that into the South Carolina game. We played a really, really good game.
“That is the best ACC Championship Game we have played. We have been in five of them and to me that was the best game we have played by far. It was just a dominant performance against a good team, especially defensively. That was probably the best defense we have seen in the ACC Championship. These guys were really good up front.”
But Clemson, who will play No. 4 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, was up 21 points on the Hurricanes before they even knew what hit then and it led 20-0 at halftime on the Gamecocks.
The Tigers (12-1) built leads of 34 and 38 points on South Carolina and Miami before either team scored. Clemson led The Citadel 61-0 before the Bulldogs kicked a fourth-quarter field goal.
As a matter of fact, Clemson has outscored The Citadel, South Carolina and Miami 130-0 combined in the first three quarters of each game. In those three wins, the Tigers have allowed just 212.3 total yards and no team had had more than 216 (The Citadel).
“We were just locked in and focused,” Swinney said. “It was a great crowd (at the ACC Championship game) and they took control of the game early and then they finished. They played well the whole game. It was a great performance and not a whole lot went wrong in that game. So, I’m really proud of them.”