Swinney envisions Orange Bowl fireworks as ‘35 is probably not enough’

Swinney envisions Orange Bowl fireworks as ‘35 is probably not enough’

Football

Swinney envisions Orange Bowl fireworks as ‘35 is probably not enough’

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Despite the adventure it’s been for Clemson’s offense this season, the Tigers have still done a decent job scoring points.

Only 24 FBS teams are scoring more than the Tigers on a per-game basis. Clemson, fresh off a 39-point performance against North Carolina in an ACC championship game rout, is averaging 34.7 points per game.

Yet one of the teams ahead of the Tigers in that department is the last opponent left on Clemson’s schedule.

In fact, No. 7 Clemson will square off against the nation’s highest-scoring team when the Tigers meet sixth-ranked Tennessee later this month in an Orange Bowl matchup consisting of the highest-ranked non-playoff teams in the College Football Playoff era.

The Volunteers are averaging a whopping 47.3 points, or more than six points better than the next-closest team (Southern Cal at 41.1 points per game). Asked on Wednesday if he’s expecting an Orange Bowl shootout come Dec. 30, Swinney wasn’t willing to go that far.

But there was one prediction he was ready to make.

“I don’t think it’ll be a 6-3 game,” Swinney said. “All I know is 35 is probably not enough for the Tigers, so we better find a way to score some points.”

Clemson scored at least 30 points in all but two regular-season games, but the offense was directed by D.J. Uiagalelei for the majority of those. After weeks of inconsistency in the junior quarterback’s play, Swinney made the switch to freshman Cade Klubnik early in the ACC championship game. Klubnik went the rest of the way, completing 20 of 24 passing for 279 yards with a touchdown pass and no turnovers.

That’s earned him his first career start in the Orange Bowl while Uiagalelei has since entered the transfer portal. But Clemson isn’t the only offense in this matchup dealing with change at the most important positoin on the field.

Tennessee was 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country at one point in large part because of the play of senior Hendon Hooker, who threw for 3,135 yards and 27 touchdowns for the nation’s top passing offense. But Hooker tore his ACL in the Vols’ regular-season finale against South Carolina.

“It’s devastating,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said, referencing Hooker’s season-ending injury. “That next day was really hard for him. A lot of tears.”

Tennessee has handed the offensive reins over to Joe Milton III, though he’s not a typical backup. A fifth-year senior who started his college career at Michigan, Milton began last season as the Vols’ starter before being overtaken by Hooker on the depth chart. Milton has completed 63% of his passes in eight games this season with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions.

Clemson will counter with one of the better defenses Tennessee has had to deal with this season. The Tigers, fresh off holding UNC to 25 points below its season average, heads into this matchup ranked in the top 25 nationally in yards and points allowed.

But Swinney knows his offense needs to be ready to match the Vols blow for blow just in case.

“If you’re playing Tennessee, you better score. That’s all I know,” Swinney said. “If we don’t score, we’ve got no chance. These guys, they not only score a lot of points, but they score really fast.

“It’s incredible. They do an amazing job, and they’ve scored on everybody. Everybody.”

Dear Old Clemson has a limited number of replica road signs to our store.  These have reflective properties just like real road signs.  Will Shipley, Tyler Davis and Antonio Williams have signed road signs with their numbers.

Now there is a new way you can support Clemson student-athletes. Purchase collectibles from Dear Old Clemson and the proceeds with go to support Clemson student-athletes. 

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