Expectations at Clemson may be at an all-time high, and Monday’s news coming out of Greensboro, N.C. did not do anything to temper those expectations.
The Tigers are the runaway favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference after garnering 139 of the 148 first place votes from media members at last week’s ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte. The media also chose Clemson to win the Atlantic Division thanks to 145 first place votes.
“The last time I checked, the expectations around here are always pretty big,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Nobody really cares. They expect us to win no matter what. I just embrace every year. This is what we got.”
Clemson, who returns 17 starters from last year’s 12-2 team that made it to the College Football Playoff, has not been this big of a favorite to win the ACC since Danny Ford’s 1988 team got 66 of a possible 67 first place votes by the media. In that situation, the Tigers went on to win the ACC for a third straight season.
“You just except the challenge of whatever it is you have in front of you,” Swinney said. “It is interesting in college football that it seems like there is always a big turnover somewhere or some big hole to fill. At least it has been that way for us for a while.
“It seems like it has been that way constantly, but yet guys have stepped up. Some years it has been on defense and, like last year, some years it has been on offense. But we have always had someone that has stepped up for us in some capacity. This particular year is very unique because we just did not lose a whole lot.”
That is why Clemson is favored to win the league for a fourth consecutive year.
“It is unique to have a team like this. I am definitely excited about it,” Swinney said. “With that there are still a lot of challenges because how do you pull it all together.”
If the Tigers do pull it all together and win the ACC, like it is favored to do, it will become the first program in the history of the conference to win four outright championships in a row. Florida State won nine ACC Championships consecutively from 1992-2000, but those Seminoles never won more than three consecutive outright championships.
As the standard in the ACC the last three years, Clemson heads into the 2018 season hoping to live up to all the hype. Its head coach likes its chances because of who he has coming back, a lot of veteran players who have played in big-time games and has already won three ACC Championships and a national championship.
In other words, they know what it takes to bring a fourth consecutive ACC Championship back to Clemson.
“It is fun to have a team that does not have a blank look at you,” Swinney said. “They know what is coming. They know what it takes.
“There are so many veterans and they know what it takes to win. They know they have to be focused because you are going to get everybody’s best shot.”
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