When Clemson moved back to the No. 2 spot in this week’s Associated Press and Amway Coaches Polls, the Tigers did not think much about it.
“I think it is a great place to be where you wake up and you’re like, ‘Oh, okay! We’re number two this week? Alight, cool,’” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said Monday from the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson.
There was a time at Clemson where being the second-ranked team in the country might be a cause for a party, but in the last eight seasons Clemson has grown past that under head coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers are at a place in the program where they expect to be the No. 2 team in the country and playing for conference and College Football Playoff berths.
“There are other years where it was the biggest thing ever back in the day and now you just like really peak at it and move on because you know it does not mean a whole lot this time of the year,” Scott said.
The Tigers’ only concern at this time of the year is winning the next game. Clemson is one of those programs that if it takes care of its business, it is going to be where it wants to be at the end of the year, regardless of what everyone else is doing.
“Coach Swinney always tells us, if you don’t think the next game is the most important game than lose it. The you will see how important it is,” tight end Milan Richard said.
A perfect example of why Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) does not get caught up in the polls was this past weekend’s Ohio State-Purdue game. The Boilermakers routed No. 2 Ohio State, 49-20.
“Purdue got off to a slow start (this year) and Ohio State walked in there and Purdue gave them everything that they wanted,” Scott said.
The Tigers know that can be them this week if they think they can just show up in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday and beat Florida State because they are the No. 2 team in the country.
“Not that we are going to really need that this week when you are playing Florida State because Florida State is Florida State, but I think it is a good reminder for everyone that in college football there is a lot of parity,” Scott said.
Clemson knows this better than anyone. In each of the last two years the Tigers have been a top 3 team when they lost to unranked opponents. In 2016, Pitt came into Death Valley and stunned the third-ranked Tigers, while last year, Syracuse took down No. 2 Clemson in the Carrier Dome.
“We have had games, obviously, the last two years where unranked teams have beaten us,” Scott said. “I think we are very comfortable and confident that if we continue to play well, we are going to be where we want to be at the end of the year. We are not there yet.
“We did not win the division with that win (over NC State). We put ourselves in the driver seat, but when you put that bullseye on your back, you know you are going to get everybody’s best shot. It requires you to play well.”