Virginia represents a fifth straight different opponent for No. 3 Clemson in ACC Title Game
Clemson is right back where it is supposed to be, playing for another Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. This is the Tigers’ fifth straight appearance in the league’s title game and it’s their seventh since 2009.
Clemson’s opponent this year is the Virginia Cavaliers, who came out of the Coastal Division thanks to its win over Virginia Tech last Friday. This will be the Cavaliers first trip to the ACC Championship Game, the sixth different opponent the Tigers have faced in their seventh title appearance.
In Clemson’s five consecutive runs to the ACC Championship Game, Virginia is the fifth different opponent the Tigers will face.
“Well, I just want to be in it. I don’t care about who we play,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “If we played the same team every year, I don’t care. I just want to make sure we can get there.
“It is kind of wild that we’re playing our fifth different opponent, which is kind of cool, too. You don’t get to play all the others. It’s been a while. I’m trying to think when we played Virginia last.”
The last time the Tigers (12-0, 8-0 ACC) played Virginia was in 2013, a 59-10 victory in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“We’re definitely excited about it, again, representing the Atlantic regardless of who comes out of the Coastal. Just so happens this year it’s Virginia, a really talented team that’s playing with a lot of passion and belief. We got to be ready to go,” Swinney said.
Virginia has a 9-3 record, including a 6-2 mark in the ACC this year. They are led by quarterback Bryce Perkins, one of the more dynamic players in the conference.
Perkins leads the ACC in total offense, averaging 303.0 yards per game.
“He’s a great player. First of all, he’s a great leader,” Swinney said. “You just see that in him. He plays with an incredible will to win. He has this belief to him. It’s very easy to see that.
“He’s one of those guys that makes everybody around him better. You can tell, again, he’s a great young man and a great leader. That doesn’t just happen. He’s got the total respect of everyone. Kind of as he goes, they go.”
Perkins has been banged up at times this season, but he has not missed a game. He had to deal with tonsillitis while preparing for the Hokies last week, but he started and played well for the Cavaliers, who snapped a 15-game losing streak to Virginia Tech.
“He’s dangerous. I mean, he’s done a lot of things with his legs,” Swinney said. “Just in the game the other day, we had a chance to watch it all pretty much the whole game on the bus going down to South Carolina. I mean, he’s a difference maker, just truly a guy that can make plays in a lot of different ways.
“He’s very dynamic. Just seems like he comes up with the big play when he needs to have it. They’re passing the ball for 260 plus yards a game. Just a guy that can beat you with his feet and his arm. Going to be a handful for us. Everything is going to go through him. They do a great job schematically to make sure he’s equipped with answers. He’s just going to be a great competitor that we have to find a way to beat.”
Clemson and Virginia will kick off at 7:30 p.m., next Saturday from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The game will be televised on ABC.
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