All year, all anyone outside of Clemson wanted to talk about was how good Alabama was. They said the Crimson Tide was perhaps the best team ever, as the defending national champions rolled through the SEC, again.
And though Clemson was plowing down the competition in the ACC at a historical rate, no one took notice because “in the SEC it just means more.”
But the Tigers never let that get to them. As their colorful head coach would say, they just drove the R.O.Y. bus—the Rest Of Y’all bus—and continued with their business.
Clemson won 13 of its 15 games this season by 20 or more points, including the last 10. In the last 10 games of the year, the Tigers beat their opposition by an average of 36.1 points per game.
But few were talking about the Tigers. Instead, they stood in the shadow of Alabama and the mighty SEC and did not let it get to them. They knew in due time they would get their opportunity.
That opportunity came this Monday evening, and when they finally got their chance to prove themselves to the rest of the college football world. The Tigers jumped at the opportunity.
Clemson dominated the Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship with a 44-16 victory. The Tigers outscored Alabama 30-0 over the final 44:18, while handing Nick Saban his worse defeat as the Tide’s head coach.
The Tigers finished the year 15-0, the first major college football team to do that in the modern era. It was also their second national championship in three years.
“I mean, our guys had the eye of the tiger, but I’m so proud, and then for our seniors to be able to go out 15-0 and truly be the best ever,” Swinney said. “There was a lot of talk about best ever all year long. We were never in that conversation. But tonight, there’s no doubt.”
Clemson left no doubt by not just destroying Alabama, but by being the first team to beat two undefeated teams in the playoff to win the championship. Before humbling the Tide and their faithful, they also routed a previously undefeated Notre Dame team (12-0) by 27 points in the CFP Semifinals in the Cotton Bowl.
Alabama was 14-0 before getting smacked by the Tigers.
“We’re the first 15-0 team, to beat Notre Dame and to beat Alabama to do it, this team won 13 games by 20 points or more and led by an unbelievable group of seniors, amazing group. I’m just thankful to be a part of it,” Swinney said. “It’s just an amazing moment. Having done this before, as I just told these guys, you enjoy this moment. We’re certainly going to enjoy it, but at the end of the day, it’s more an appreciation for the journey we went through to get here. The grind, the struggles, and then what you remember most and appreciate most is the relationships that you have in place.”
The Tigers will continue to enjoy the moment and the journey when they participate in the Champions Parade today in Clemson. The parade begins at 9 a.m., while the celebration ceremony will begin at Death Valley at 10:30 a.m.
“An amazing moment. So thankful and can’t wait to get back started and see if we can find a way to go do it again,” Swinney said.