CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Every time Clemson drops within the polls (regardless of every other unbeaten season) or quarterback Trevor Lawrence throws an interception or any person dares to say the agenda, it is going to as neatly be crimson meat dangled underneath Dabo Swinney’s nostril.
So it didn’t take a lot to get Swinney, the Clemson trainer, riled up remaining week when he used to be requested in regards to the relevance of the Atlantic Coast Convention championship.
“What are you speaking about?” Swinney mentioned, incredulous to the belief that his crew would possibly have had to stretch its successful streak to 28 video games to achieve access into the Faculty Soccer Playoff. “Yeah, it’s an enormous recreation, has numerous nationwide relevance for us. If we lose, they need to throw us out as a result of they don’t recognize who we play, which is every other funny story of itself.”
The Tigers had been all trade on Saturday evening, leaving little to likelihood with a 62-17 thumping of the plucky however overmatched Virginia to protected a berth within the four-team playoff. Clemson (13-Zero) can be joined by way of Louisiana State; Ohio State, which needed to rally previous Wisconsin; and in all chance, Oklahoma, which edged Baylor in extra time to win the Large 12 championship.
The playoff committee, which convened in Grapevine, Texas, to observe the convention championship video games, will announce the pairings on Sunday for the 2 semifinals, the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl, which can be performed on Dec. 28.
If Saturday’s video games had been a attractiveness festival, it used to be laborious to not be wowed by way of Clemson’s receiving tandem, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, who’re dynamic sufficient to make Tom Brady want he may just throw to them this season.
“Indubitably they’re the most efficient receivers we’ve ever observed — that’s a reality,” Virginia cornerback Nick Grant mentioned.
The pair has dimension — they’re each 6-foot-Four — and a sprinter’s velocity, and on Saturday evening they confirmed flypaper fingers. Ross, a sophomore who used to be sensational in remaining yr’s rout of Alabama for the nationwide championship, sprinted previous two defensive backs to haul in a 59-yard scoring go.
Higgins, although, used to be the celebrity. The junior stuck 9 passes for 182 yards, together with 3 for touchdowns, and used to be the sport’s most respected participant. His easiest catch of the evening got here when he stretched out over the sideline and saved a toe within the box of play to haul in a 24-yard go from Lawrence. That ability used to be complemented by way of brute power when Higgins shrugged off a take on from Heskin Smith — a cornerback who used to be surrendering 5 inches and 40 kilos — and scored on a 19-yard landing catch and run.
The ones kinds of bodily disparities had been obvious far and wide the sphere.
Whilst Clemson has rolled throughout the Atlantic Department nearly by way of acclimation, the Coastal Department has supplied new fodder for the Tigers each and every season. Virginia is the 7th other winner of the Coastal Department within the remaining seven years, however it’s an an increasing number of acquainted tale.
The Cavaliers (Nine-Four) had an important season and quarterback Bryce Perkins, a wily senior, poked quite a lot of holes within the Tigers’ protection, which allowed 387 yards, essentially the most it had all season. However the two groups had been enjoying with other items.
If it is Lawrence — a statuesque 6-foot-6, big-armed quarterback — the dynamic receivers or a protection dotted with five-star recruits, Clemson seems to be each bit the a part of the varsity soccer energy this is gunning for its 3rd nationwide championship in 4 seasons.
The Cavaliers have got by way of with some skillful, suave gamers who would possibly suffice towards the remainder of the convention, however they had been woefully oversized on Saturday evening. Freshman kickoff returner Seneca Milledge is Five-foot-6, 160 kilos; sophomore receiver Billy Kemp IV is Five-foot-Nine, 175 kilos; and sophomore linebacker Noah Taylor is 6-foot-Five and a spindly 215 kilos.
Equivalent mismatches had been provide each and every week for Clemson.
That has been the one criticism — when the general playoff scores are introduced on Sunday, the Tigers are not going to have performed a unmarried ranked opponent. Thus, their lone scare — a 21-20 win at North Carolina that used to be secured once they thwarted a overdue 2-point conversion — looked as if it would elevate nice weight. This used to be whilst they tore aside the remainder of their agenda, no one coming nearer than 33 issues of their ultimate 8 video games.
And but Clemson has dropped within the Related Press Best 25 ballot, from first to as little as fourth, and used to be ranked 5th within the first playoff rating. If the Tigers have had to triumph over skepticism from the playoff committee and citizens within the polls, they appear to have the distinction of L.S.U. and Ohio State, who had been angling for the highest spot so they may steer clear of enjoying Clemson in a semifinal.
“Numerous folks say they don’t play any one, however we don’t pay any consideration to that,” mentioned Lloyd Cushenberry III, a junior heart for L.S.U. “They’re the protecting nationwide champs.”
And Clemson’s efficiency, with an offense that started to resemble the juggernaut that rolled throughout the playoffs remaining season, looked as if it would have even softened Swinney.
Requested how the committee would possibly type out 3 undefeated groups, he shrugged. He figured L.S.U. will be the top-ranked crew and Ohio State subsequent.
“We’ll be in there someplace,” he mentioned. “I might suppose we’d almost definitely be three once more. It doesn’t actually subject. We’ll play someplace and play any person and be grateful for the chance.”
Alan Blinder contributed reporting from Atlanta.