After his team debuted as the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff Committee’s initial top 25 poll Tuesday night, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said to ESPN’s Rece Davis his team belonged on the R.O.Y.—the rest of ya’ll—bus with everyone else in the country.
To Swinney, the Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) still had some work to do before they belonged in the first three buses with Alabama, who is ranked No. 1.
Davis laughed and said to Swinney Clemson very much belonged up front with the Crimson Tide, especially considering the Tigers have outscored their last three opponents—Wake Forest, NC State and Florida State—163-20.
“Alabama is on the buses 1,2 and 3 and we are on the R.O.Y.s – the Rest of Ya’ll. We are in that group. The Rest of Ya’ll,” Swinney said while laughing.
Though Swinney was joking around, his humble approach was very much deliberate. He wants to keep his team hungry because there is a good chance Clemson and Alabama are on a collision course to meet for a fourth straight year in the College Football Playoff and quite possibly a third time in the national title game.
“The reality of it is, back when I was a player we kind of had the big-time bus and then the R.O.Y. bus – the Rest of Ya’ll – it is kind of Alabama and the rest of ya’ll. We are just kind of glad to be on the R.O.Y bus right now and to still have a chance,” Swinney said. “But, it really does not matter. It is exciting to know that we are getting into November and we are still a team that is in the middle of the hunt.
“The race is not over. You have to keep running the race with purpose and focus and great attention to the task at hand and just take them one at a time. Hopefully, when it is all said and done and ya’ll get to about that fifth or however many shows that ya’ll do, we are still in there, that would be awesome. For us, we want to win our division first. That is what we want to do.”
The Tigers, who host Louisville on Saturday at Death Valley, are in great shape to win their division. A win over the Cardinals, gives them an opportunity to clinch the division, and a spot in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2, when they play at Boston College on Nov. 10.
Though Swinney feels his team does not belong on the big-time bus with Alabama at this moment, everyone else does. Clemson is clearly the gold standard in the ACC these days, winning 30 of their last 32 conference games. The Tigers are 26-1 in their last 27 games against Atlantic Division foes.
As for not belonging with Alabama, well, the month of October proved Clemson should have its bus riding right alongside the Crimson Tide and maybe even a little in front.
In October, Clemson led the nation in scoring offense, averaging 54.3 points per game. Alabama was second at 54.0.
However, where the difference lied was on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers led the nation in scoring defense as well in October, giving up just 6.7 points per game. The Crimson Tide allowed 20.7 points per game this month, 35th in the country.
It appears the bus Clemson is on is right where it needs to be, and there is no doubt, the Tigers are definitely not on any of the R.O.Y buses.