Though he was raised in Alabama, Dabo Swinney said he grew up watching the Clemson-Georgia rivalry.
The Tigers’ head coach remembers how hard fought those games were and how physical they were. He expects Saturday’s top 5 match between No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Georgia to be no different than it was back in the late 1970s and ‘80s when both teams won five games and tied once in an 11-year span.
The average margin of victory in those 11 games was 4.7 points and nine of the 11 games were decided by seven points or less.
“This is one of those games that you hear about from the fan base and I am sure it is the same with Georgia fans because of all the history both teams have had with each other,” Swinney said on Off Campus with Mark Packer on ESPNU Radio Thursday. “There were a lot of close games, especially back in the 80s.
“It is actually a game that I grew up watching. I think it is a natural rivalry, the proximity and so forth. It is fun. Then you throw in the fact it is a top five matchup. It has only happened four times in the last twenty-one years in college football to have an opening game with a top five match up.”
Most people expect Saturday’s opener for both teams to be another classic Clemson-Georgia game. In 2013, the Tigers and Bulldogs opened as a top 10 matchup in Death Valley, which No. 8 Clemson won 38-35 over the fifth-ranked Bulldogs.
Georgia won the following season in 2014, a game Swinney said the Bulldogs dominated them in, especially in the fourth quarter. The Clemson coach expects another slobber knocker on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (7:30 p.m., ABC).
“Both teams are built in the trenches. It is exciting,” Swinney said.
“Not only is it Clemson-Georgia, but it is rare to have a matchup like this. Usually, this is a postseason type matchup,” he continued. “So, it is just a great opportunity for both teams, and one that I know both teams are excited about.”
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