It’s crazy to imagine that a team that has won 28 straight games and is the defending national champion, feels like it is the one that has to make a statement in the College Football Playoff.
But that is where No. 3 Clemson feels like it is at, especially after ESPN personalities, such as Paul Finebaum, question the Tigers’ toughness and whether they are as good as the other three teams in the playoff … LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. According to some media members, like Finebaum, Clemson is an ACC interloper.
The Tigers (13-0) will get their opportunity to prove those critics wrong, again, when it plays No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona on Dec. 28.
“Personally, I am really excited for this opportunity,” Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons said following the Tigers’ win over Virginia in the ACC Championship Game. “We have been doubted all year. I like to prove people wrong. Nobody really thought we are that good. There is this little stigma out there that we do not play anybody. So, I guess we are going to show everybody what we are really made of.”
Clemson rolled through its schedule, beating its 13 opponents by an average margin of 35.9 points per game. The Tigers won 11 of those games by 30 or more points. They also won six games by 42 or more points and they won the last eight games by an average of 42.1 points.
All of those numbers are historical at Clemson, in the ACC and in the NCAA. Clemson is the first team to win eight games in a row by 30 or more points in the history of the Associated Press Poll era, which began in 1936.
Ohio State, who has two wins over No. 8 Wisconsin and one win over No. 10 Penn State and No. 14 Michigan, will be the Tigers’ toughest opponent yet. The Buckeyes have won every game this season by 11 points or more and rallied from two touchdowns down in the second half to beat the Badgers, 34-21, in the Big Ten Championship Game last week.
“I love competition where guys are elite players and things like that,” Simmons said. “I love games like this. I am really looking forward to this game and trying to make a statement.”
Clemson is back in the College Football Playoffs once again. Get the latest official Clemson CFP gear right here!