Dabo Swinney is always trying to find a way to motivate his Clemson Tigers.
After the Tigers were selected as the No. 3 team in the College Football Playoff Sunday and learned they will play No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 28 in Glendale, Arizona, ESPN’s cameras captured Swinney’s subtle message to his players.
“It is the first time since 1966, that a team started the season No. 1, went undefeated through the regular season and finished third,” he said. “Okay! So, that is history! The first time that has happened, No. 1, so congratulations on that.”
In 1966, Alabama went 11-0 but finished No. 3 behind Notre Dame and Michigan State in the final polls even though the Irish and the Spartans tied in their game during the season.
Clemson, who was the preseason No. 1 team, dropped to No. 3 despite winning 12 of their 13 games by 30 or more points and having an average margin of victory of 35.9 points per game this year. In the last eight games, the Tigers have won by an average of 42.1 points, including a 62-17 win over then No. 23 Virginia in Saturday’s ACC Championship Game.
“Y’all make it easy for me,” Swinney said to ESPN’s Rece Davis Sunday when he was asked how he keeps playing the disrespect card despite owning the nation’s longest current winning streak at 28 games. “These guys live in this world, so we are just excited to be in it and we are glad to have an opportunity to go back out to Arizona and play a great opponent in Ohio State. What an unbelievable season they have had.
“Congratulations to LSU and Oklahoma as well. But we are just glad to be in it. Credit goes to these players. They have worked their butts off, all year long. Our staff has been amazing. Tremendous leadership and focus. It is not easy to win, especially to win as many games in a row as these guys have won. To get to this point, this is what happens win you win the ACC Championship, you get a chance to go play of the whole thing. We are excited about it.”
Last year, Clemson was the first team to go undefeated and 15-0 in the College Football Playoff era. This year, the Tigers can become the first No. 3 seed to win the national championship.
“It is fun! Everybody loves a challenge, or at least we love one here,” Swinney said. “Again, you are always looking for the little things along the way. When you go across country, free fuel is good. It is expensive. Gas can cost a lot of money. So, when you can get free fuel, it is always good.”
The Clemson Tigers ares ACC Champions for the fifth year in a row. Get the latest official Clemson ACC Championship gear from Fanatics.