Tigers arrive in Phoenix in advance of Saturday's College Football Playoff Semifinal
PHOENIX — As he was getting off the airplane Sunday at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, everyone on the Fiesta Bowl Welcoming Committee was thanking No. 3 Clemson for participating in their game.
However, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was wondering why they were thanking him. He was thankful to be here.
“You got to get picked to be here. ‘I’m like shoot! Thank you for having us!’ Because you have to get picked to come here,” he said after the Tigers’ got off the plane. “We didn’t really get a choice, so we are just thankful to get to be out here in Arizona.”
This is Clemson’s third trip to Phoenix in the last five seasons. The Tigers played Alabama in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game and then met Ohio State in the CFP Semifinals a year later in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Tigers (13-0) will now play the second-ranked Buckeyes again on Saturday in another semifinal game at the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, the last time the two played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Clemson handed the Buckeyes their worst loss in their postseason history, 31-0.
Clemson, the defending national champions, went on to win the national championship that year, too.
“We came out here, I guess in ’16, and we are a very young team,” Swinney said. “The majority of our team has not been here. Just our fourth-year juniors and true seniors, but most of our team has not been to Arizona, so it is a really great trip and something we are really excited about. We are just very appreciative of all of the hospitality.
“I was out here as a player, way back in 1990, as well, so just great memories and great experiences and the hospitality. I am looking forward to a great week and an incredible matchup with an awesome team in Ohio State. It should be exciting for everybody.”
Clemson is back in the College Football Playoffs once again. Get the latest official Clemson CFP gear right here!