Dabo Swinney spent his Friday afternoon doing something he has always wanted to do … tour Notre Dame University.
Swinney, who was given a tour by former Clemson Sports Information Director and Notre Dame graduate Tim Bourret, had the opportunity to see where the priest live, the Old Cabin, the Old College, the Lake, Touchdown Jesus and of course Notre Dame Stadium, where the Tigers did a walkthrough to get a feel of the stadium and the field in preparation of tonight’s game.
“I had never been here. It was a really cool experience to see Notre Dame, one of the great places in all of the country,” Swinney said on ESPN’s College GameDay Show Saturday morning.
But that is over with and tonight, Swinney and the top-ranked Tigers turn their attention to No. 4 Notre Dame. The Irish (6-0, 5-0 ACC) come in with a 22-game home winning streak and own the nation’s longest overall win streak at 12 games.
However, the Tigers (7-0, 6-0 ACC) have won 36 straight regular season games and come in with the nation’s longest true-road game win streak (14). These are games, Clemson has been built for.
Clemson has won six of its last eight games against Top 5 opponents since the start of the 2016 season. The Tigers are 8-4 all-time in games when both teams enter ranked among the AP Top 5, including a 7-3 mark since 2015, the second-most AP Top 5 wins in the country behind Alabama (11) in that span.
“This is the Championship Phase of the season for us,” Swinney said. “When you get in games like this, where they margin of error is small, first of all, you have to believe. You have to execute your plan to win, which we have. You have to be able to handle the adversity and the success of the game. Your best players have to play. Your best players have to lead the way and you have to have some fun.
“I always tell them, ‘The joy is in the doing’ and this is what it is all about. I mean this is a top 5 game on the road. How often do you get a chance to play a top 5 team on the road at their place? Those are rare opportunities.”
But they are opportunities the Clemson program embraces and welcomes a challenge playing No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend, even if it does not have its starting quarterback and three starters on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think just over twelve years, and we have not won them all for sure, but we have had enough success where it is woven into our DNA. These guys believe and expect to win, and they are not overwhelmed with the moment,” Swinney said. “We may get our butts beat tonight, who knows? But we don’t let one moment define us. This is the biggest game of the year because it is the next one.”
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