All of what has happened in the last 10 days for the Clemson football program was why Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins decided to return to Clemson for one last season.
This season was all about leaving their legacy at Clemson. It was about putting Clemson back on top of the college football world. Well, they did it, and they did it with an exclamation mark.
The Tigers closed out arguably the greatest single-season by a college football team with a 44-16 thumping of Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 7. It is the same Alabama team that many of the experts called the greatest team ever in the days leading up to the game.
But it was Clemson that proved it was “the greatest team ever” as the Tigers dominated the Crimson Tide in almost every single phase of the game.
“We are the best ever. Until somebody does what we did, go 15-0 and how we did it! We are the best ever,” Bryant said.
Clemson did it, not just against Alabama, but pretty much against everyone. The Tigers trailed in just six games all season, and in all but one, they had control of the game by halftime. The one game was against Syracuse when Chase Brice came off the bench for an injured Trevor Lawrence and saved the season.
In all, Clemson won 13 games by at least 20 points. Of those 13 wins, two were by 60-plus points, the first team in ACC history to have two 60 or more-point victories in the same season. Two other wins were by 41 points or more, while three were by 31 or more points.
Six other victories were by 20-plus points, including a 27-point win over an undefeated Notre Dame team in the Cotton Bowl and then the 28-point beatdown they handed previously undefeated Alabama in the national championship game.
Clemson became the second team in the history of college football—Notre Dame did it in 1988—to win back-to-back games against undefeated teams to win a national championship, much less beat them both by four touchdowns.
“It speaks for itself. Just hats off to this team and this program,” Ferrell said. “We feel like we were the best team in college football and, obviously, you have to beat the best to be the best and we went out there and did what we wanted to do and that was put on a dominant performance.
“I feel like it is not really up for debate. We are the best team ever. We’re 15-0. The most wins by a senior class and we beat the best team that was considered the best team in the history of college football.”
The Tigers average margin of victory for the season was 31.1 points per game. In their last 10 victories, they outscored the opposition by an average margin of 36.1 points.
And though the Tigers won their second national title in three years, Ferrell said it is not going to end here. He said 2018 is still just the beginning for this program under head coach Dabo Swinney.
“He had a vision for this program and that vision is still formulating,” Ferrell said. “This is not the pinnacle. He will tell you right now that this is not the pinnacle. We have twins (two national titles) now, but we want about twelve kids in our family. You know what I mean?
“It is just crazy because he always wants more, and he wants the best for us. It is not about what the players want. It is about what the players need and what this program needs, and he does it the right way. He is always about putting God first and that is what I love about him. He has always made Him the head of his vision, so I love that man to death.”