On Saturday, Clemson will honor arguably its greatest senior class in its history. By the end of the game, it could be the winningest senior class in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and by the end of the season it could the winningest senior class in the history of College Football.
“It’s Senior Day,” head coach Dabo Swinney said as his second-ranked Tigers prepare to host Duke at Death Valley (7 p.m., ESPN). “I know we will have a great crowd come out and kind of tip their hats to these guys. What they have done is amazing and, ironically, they have an opportunity to make some history.”
If the Tigers (10-0, 7-0 ACC) beat the Blue Devils they will set the ACC and Clemson record for wins in a four-year career with 51.
There are also a multitude of other first this year’s senior class will have an opportunity to accomplish before the 2018 football season is complete.
And that got us to thinking at The Clemson Insider. This class has been so historic and has accomplished so many things it got us wondering how it compares to the overall history with their biggest rival, the South Carolina Gamecocks.
In their 126-year history, the Gamecocks have recorded just four 10-win seasons. Clemson’s senior class this year just accomplished its fourth 10-win campaign with a win at Boston College last week.
South Carolina has never opened a season 10-0. The Tigers’ seniors last week became the first senior class in Clemson history to accomplish that feat twice in a career. As freshmen, this year’s senior class went 12-0 in the 2015 regular season and started the year 14-0 before losing to Alabama in the national championship game.
The Gamecocks own one conference championship, the 1969 ACC Championship. This year’s seniors at Clemson can win their fourth straight ACC title with a win in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 1.
Since joining the SEC in 1992, the Gamecocks have won just one SEC East Division title in the 27 years it has competed in the SEC. That title of course came in 2010.
Clemson’s seniors have won an ACC record four division titles in a row, joining Florida, who won five straight SEC East titles from 1992-’96, as the only two Power 5 programs to have a senior class win four straight division championships in the conference championship game era. A win in the ACC Championship Game will make Clemson and Florida the only Power 5 schools to win four straight conference titles in the championship game era.
South Carolina has never had a senior class win more than 42 games in its history. The 2013 seniors in Columbia recorded a 42-11 record, which is impressive. However, Clemson’s current seniors are 50-4 heading into Saturday’s game against Duke.
The Gamecocks best overall season were back-to-back-to-back 11-2 seasons from 2011-2013. Those were great years. The greatest three-year stretch in the program’s history. However, Clemson’s seniors have already been a part of back-to-back 14-1 seasons and were a part of a 12-2 season last year.
South Carolina never played in what was a Major Bowl Game in the old bowl-game system (1916-1997). It never played in a BCS Bowl Game (1998-’13) and it has not played in a New Year’s Six or College Football Playoff Bowl Game (2014-present).
Clemson’s seniors have already played in the Orange Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and the Sugar Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff. All three bowls were considered Major Bowl Games in the old bowl-game system. They were a part of the BCS and they are all three apart of the New Year’s Six and the College Football Playoff.
Obviously, South Carolina has never won or played for a national championship. Clemson’s seniors have already won one national championship and have played for another in their careers.
In other words, Clemson’s seniors have accomplished more in its four years than the Gamecocks have accomplished in 126 seasons of playing football.