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Dec
06
2015

Clemson football, as it enters the playoffs, has come full circle under Dabo Swinney.

deshaun-watson-starter

Clemson football was in a near 20 year funk, when Dabo Swinney took over as Tiger head coach in 2008. Underachievement was the epitome of Clemson football. It was gradual process, but 7 years later Swinney has the Tigers going into the College Football Playoffs as the number 1 seed.

Bowls wins over programs like Ohio State, LSU, and Oklahoma proved just how close Clemson was to contending for a national title, but the question was could Clemson get over the hump?

After 5 straight 10+ win season’s and a playoff berth, Clemson is a national football power. Only a national title will allow Clemson to join Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama as the country’s most elite program, but they are now in that next group of the 4 or 5 best football programs going.

This is a far cry from the Tommy West and Tommy Bowden Clemson days. The Tigers enter the playoffs with as good a shot of winning it all as any of the three remaining teams.

They will have the best quarterback in Deshaun Watson out of Oklahoma, Alabama, and Michigan State, and they are battle tested beating three top 10 teams during the course of the season.

The Tigers can power run when they need to with Wayne Gallman, and they have a wealth of WR talent. The front 4 on Defense with Shaq Lawson leading the way is among the nation’s best. Yes, they can bring home the national title.

Any of the four can. Alabama has the best defense of the playoff teams, and Nick Saban is best or 2nd best coach in college football depending on who you ask. Oklahoma looks like the playoffs most balanced team, excelling without much weakness on either side of the ball. Michigan State is similar program to Clemson. Noted for years as underachieving, and inconsistency have established themselves as one of the country’s premier teams. They are as a tough as nails group and certainly capable of winning two games in this playoff format.

Clemson has come full circle from the program that couldn’t, to the program that can under Dabo Swinney. Who knew? I’ll be the first to admit I was skeptical of the hire, but Swinney proved me and a lot of people wrong.

For the ACC this couldn’t have worked out better. This will be the 3rd straight post-season the conference will compete for a national title. Even in a year when Florida State slipped just a bit, Clemson filled the role of national title contender from the ACC.

That is something the ACC did not have happen when FSU declined in the mid 2000s. With a strong group of coaching hires, the emergence of Clemson and Florida State still going 10-2 in a slightly down year, the ACC is in a great position for the future.

Can the conference really get it’s 2nd national title in 3 years? We’ll see, but I don’t doubt Clemson can pull it off.

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