CLEMSON — The third installment of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night and Clemson came in at No. 2. The Tigers jumped two spots, it is officially crunch time within their schedule and all eyes are going to turn to how they might fare in these next three weeks.
Winning out and beating Miami in the ACC Championship would punch the Tigers' ticket in. Losing any of the remaining three games against The Citadel, South Carolina or Miami would derail that initiative.
Sensing the finality that is upon his team as the season winds down, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is aware of the outside chatter. But internally, he wants his team to know the season is not a failure if a playoff berth is not in the cards. As such, Tuesday, the Tigers' coach utilized his public press conference platform to speak to his players. Heading into the season, many stacked the odds against the Tigers, then when they lost to Syracuse, questions lingered — and still do. Clemson's ending still waits to be written. But from a larger standpoint, Swinney is proud of how his unit handled it all.
"Guys responded and it's what I love to see in a group of young people. Especially in this world, where there's so much criticism and so much noise and so much over analyzation for everything in everybody's life, to see a group of young people — this is the fewest seniors we've had since World War II. It's amazing," Swinney said. "I'm really, really proud of this team regardless what happens the rest of the way. This football team right here has been fun to coach and they have responded all year long coming off of a national championship and all that comes with that, knowing that you're going to get every ounce of everybody's best week in and week out. They just put the work in. I can't overstate that enough, how proud of I am of this group. If the season ended today, I really am pleased with their effort."
Freshman running back Travis Etienne, known for his flashy play making and ability to light up opposing defenses, was named the ACC's Rookie of the Week this week. Etienne had 14 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State, earning the honor for the second time this season.
Clemson and The Citadel have met on the football field 37 times over the years, with Clemson leading 31-5-1. Clemson has won the last 16 in a row, while The Citadel is looking for its first win over the Tigers since 1931 when the two teams match up Saturday.
Clemson helps out The Citadel
Earlier this year, when the aftermath of Hurricane Irma hit the Lowcountry, The Citadel could return from a game in Clinton to practice on its own campus, so instead the Bulldogs traveled to the upstate. Among the places that allowed The Citadel to practice at its facility was Clemson. Clemson opened up its facility to Brent Thompson and his team in September, prompting Thompson to declare he would pull for Clemson all season except for when his team plays the Tigers.
"Within about a couple of hours, Coach (Swinney) opened up his doors to us and we’re very, very, very grateful for that. He gave us a two-hour time block to come in here and use whatever they had,” Thompson said. “We’re very appreciative of the fact that he was gracious enough to be able to give us his facility for the day."