Though sting of losing hurts, Clemson still has plenty to celebrate

Though sting of losing hurts, Clemson still has plenty to celebrate

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Though sting of losing hurts, Clemson still has plenty to celebrate

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Tigers conclude the 2010s with a record of 117-23

NEW ORLEANS — A locker room that is usually filled with smiling faces, music and lots of dancing, was quiet, somber and had players crying.

For the first time in more than two years, Clemson’s football team experienced what a loss felt, and unfortunately for Clemson, it came on the biggest of stages. The Tigers’ reign as college football’s national champion came to a sudden end Monday as LSU knocked off Clemson 42-25 behind six total touchdowns and 521 total yards from quarterback Joe Burrow.

“Obviously, it’s a disappointing night for us. It’s not the way we envisioned it going,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said afterward. “But let me just first say I’m incredibly thankful for our team. I’m thankful for God’s grace, for allowing me to be part of such a special group of people, coaches, staff and players, and just an unreal year. I mean, incredible. It’s just an incredible year, two years. Won 29 games in a row. It’s been a long time since I’ve stood in front of a team with a loss.

“But this team in particular, just really special. Coming into this year, 80 freshmen and sophomores out of 120, to get back to this point, I’m just super proud of them. It’s incredibly difficult to even get here and super hard to win it. That’s for sure.”

Though the sting of losing for the first time in more than two years hurts at the moment, it does not take away what Clemson has accomplished.

The Tigers’ 29-game winning streak is tied for the longest in ACC history and tied with 2012-14 Florida State, 1990-93 Miami (Fla.) and 1901-03 Michigan for the 12th-longest in FBS history.

Clemson’s seniors conclude their careers 55-4 over the last four seasons, tied with the 2018 Clemson and Alabama seniors for the most wins in a four-year career in FBS history.

“Just don’t take anything for granted,” quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “I don’t think I did, but it is so important to enjoy it. You get so caught up in trying to win the next one, you kind of forget what you have been able to accomplish and man this team and last year’s team has done some pretty amazing things.

“This senior class, especially. I am just really proud to be on this team and I am just really proud of those guys.”

Clemson concluded the 2010s with a record of 117-23 (.836). Clemson’s mark in the 2010s represents only the fourth time a program has won 117 games in a decade in major college football since 1890, joining Penn (124 in the 1890s), Alabama (124 in the 2010s) and Ohio State (117 in the 2010s).

Clemson’s 14 wins on the year finish tied for the second-most in school history with the 2015 and 2016 squads.

The Tigers dropped to 6-3 all-time in College Football Playoff games. Clemson’s six all-time wins in the playoff remain tied with Alabama for the most in CFP history. No school other than Clemson and Alabama has more than two.

Clemson has won two national championships in the last four years and has played for the title four times in the last five seasons.

“Again, just proud of our seniors. These guys are leaving here with 55 wins, and this hurts right now, a lot of pain. I’m disappointed, hurt for all our fans,” Swinney said. “But what an incredible run. We’ll get back to work. We start spring ball six weeks from Wednesday, and excited about next year’s team and the challenge of going back to work and putting another team together.

“We’ll celebrate this group. We’re going to have our banquet next weekend. We’ll celebrate this wonderful group of seniors the right way, and then we’ll get back to work and see if we can get back here.”

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