Note: The following appears in the South Carolina Football Gameday schedule.
While we honored the Clemson seniors last weekend before the game in Miami, Fla., today is the last home game for the Dabo Swinney seniors. Since taking over writing this column from Bob Bradley in 2000, I have written The Last Word on the senior’s last home game day program, and I continue that tradition today.
26 “seniors” were honored last weekend at the Seniors’ Day. Identifying “seniors” isn’t as easy as it used to be. The COVID-19 pandemic and the four-game redshirt rule have resulted in “senior” classes spanning three, four, five, and six years.
There could be players on the list on the side who decide to return for the 2023 season. In 2017, Christian Wilkins went through the “Senior Day” ceremonies and then announced in January that he had decided to return in 2018.
For consistency, we will be looking at the 2022 senior class in a four-year window that began with the 2019 season. Here are some facts about the class.
• The class has a 44-7 record, the third most wins in the nation over the period. Only seven Tiger senior classes have amassed a total of 45+ wins.
• Class was a key reason the Tigers qualified for three ACC championship games. Only 10 Clemson senior classes have won three or more ACC titles. The last senior classes of 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 made it.
• This class has won 37 games against Power Five Conference opponents, the most in the nation with Georgia since 2019.
• Swinney’s program is in the AP’s top 25 in 55 polls. That’s the fifth most appearances in the last four years. When it comes to top-10 finishes, the Tigers have 50 appearances, the fourth-most in the nation. When it comes to top five finishes, Clemson is third at 45. Clemson has been ranked #1 in 14 polls over the past four years. That’s 14 of the 25 all-time appearances at the top.
• This class is 25-0 in Death Valley. The record is 27-0, set by the senior classes of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. He was part of 25 of the 40 straight wins Clemson has had since 2016.
• The squad participated in two College Football Playoffs (2019.20) and the CFP National Championship Game during the 2019 season.
• This class has a 30-3 record against ACC teams, by far the highest mark in league competition, and a 9-5 record against top 25 teams, including a 3-0 record in 2022.
• With last weekend’s win over Miami, the class continued its winning streak from 10 straight seasons to 12, the third-longest streak in history.
As we take note of all of these accomplishments on the field, Swinney will think of the comebacks this class has seen over the past four years. It has had a lasting impact on the program culture.
“One of the accomplishments I think of when it comes to this class is coming back from a 4-3 start in 2021 to finish 10-3 and continuing that on a 14-game winning streak this year , the country’s longest streak at the time.
“You can’t do something like that without the players investing. They all invest time and effort in the off-season, spring and mid-season. They all knew what it takes to be successful.
“I’m also so proud of what they’ve all accomplished academically. We’ll have 30 graduates on our list when we play a bowl game.”