The last time Clemson played in the Cotton Bowl was the first time it ever appeared in a bowl game. That was way back in 1940 when All-American Banks McFadden led the Tigers to a 6-3 victory over Boston College to conclude the 1939 season.
The victory was a landmark one for Clemson, as in addition to being the program’s first bowl game, it represented the school’s first win against a Top 20 team. The Tigers finished the year 9-1 under head coach Jess Neely in 1939 and earned a No. 12 ranking in the final Associated Press Poll.
Since then, the Tigers have been to 41 other bowl games through the years, played for three national championships and won two. Obviously, a lot has changed in 79 years. The Cotton Bowl Stadium is outdated, and the game is now played in the plush confines of AT&T Stadium or affectionately know as “Jerry’s World” for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“Well, just, first of all, that stadium. What a great venue,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I’ve never been there. I’ve obviously seen it on TV. So, I’m looking forward to playing a game in such an incredible environment and spending some extended time in Dallas.”
Clemson (13-0) is the No. 2 seed in this year’s College Football Playoff and will be playing No. 3 seed Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. eastern time.
“When I’ve been to Dallas, it’s been kind of in and out,” Swinney said. “But just all the things I’ve heard about the Cotton Bowl in general, the hospitality and the wonderful committee folks that they have there.”
Swinney is also looking forward to the matchup with the Irish.
The meeting between the Tigers and Irish will be only the fourth all-time meeting between the two programs. Clemson holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series between the schools, including a win in the programs’ most recent meeting in 2015, when Clemson stopped a two-point conversion attempt in a driving rain storm to secure a 24-22 victory at Memorial Stadium.
Notre Dame (12-0) went through this season undefeated and beat similar foes as Clemson did in Wake Forest, Pitt, Syracuse and Florida State. The Irish have won 13 straight games, dating back to last year’s bowl victory to conclude a 10-3 season.
“Just having a chance to compete against a great team and again on a great stage and representing Clemson the very best we can. That’s what I’m looking forward to, and seeing our players just continue to enjoy their journey,” Swinney said.
Clemson will be making a bowl appearance for the 14th consecutive year, adding to its current school record that began in 2005. In total, it will be Clemson’s 43rd bowl appearance, with the Tigers entering their upcoming bowl schedule with an existing 22-20 all-time record in bowl play.