When Clemson was warming up in the moments before the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Pittsburgh head Pat Narduzzi and other ACC coaches were on the Clemson sideline watching.
Narduzzi enjoyed being down on the field and experiencing the moment. He looked on with admiration at Clemson and its players as they continued to warmup. He could be heard saying, “It’s crazy to think we beat these guys. We possibly beat the national champions.”
As it turned out, he did.
Earlier in the season, Pitt took down the Tigers, 43-42, at Death Valley, still the only home loss for Clemson since Nov. 14, 2013. The Tigers have won 36 of their last 37 at Memorial Stadium.
After suffering that loss to Pitt, Clemson went on to win its next five games, including a dramatic win over Alabama that night in Tampa, Fla.
Second-ranked Clemson (12-0) has become the marquee program in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and on Saturday a win over Narduzzi’s Pitt team can further cement that claim with a fourth straight conference championship.
“Obviously, Dabo has done an incredible job,” Narduzzi said. “He’s not only a football coach, but he’s a businessman. He’s got the tools he needs down there, the facilities, their slides, movie theater outside, backyard barbecues they have. They’ve got a unique place down south. They’re able to attract a lot of talent.”
Since the start of the 2015 season, the Tigers have owned the ACC. Clemson is 33-2 in conference play, including its three wins in the ACC Championship Game.
The Tigers went 8-0 in ACC play this season, winning their eight games by an average margin of 35.6 points per outing. Clemson outscored its ACC opposition 285-93.
“They’ve done a great job winning football games which has helped the consistency of bringing more talent there,” Narduzzi said. “They got a ton of tradition. Like I said, Dabo really has done that. He has some Alabama ties. He’s doing a little bit of the Saban way. He’s building another powerhouse there in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.”