Clemson is preparing for his 12th and final regular season game on Saturday when the Tigers take on their rival South Carolina.
The Gamecocks (7-4, 4-4 SEC), fresh from their win over a top-five team in Tennessee last weekend, cracked the top 25 of both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll (No. 25) early on this season after week 8.
Although South Carolina’s appearance in the rankings was short-lived as they fell out of the polls after losing to an unranked Missouri team the following week, the Gamecocks will mark their seventh opponent, Clemson’s in this one season and who was above the rank at some point during the course of the 2022 campaign (Wake Forest, NC State, Florida State, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Miami).
That fact was brought up during Dabo Swinney’s weekly press briefing on Tuesday, when Clemson’s head coach was asked if he thinks the Tigers’ schedule is consistent with pretty much every other team in the college football playoff race.
“Yes. It’s been a tough schedule all year, every game,” he said. “Every game is a tough game. It’s hard to win. There’s a lot of narrative that people like to publish. But all you gotta do is pay attention to college football. It’s really hard to win.”
Swinney cited last week’s college football action as a “perfect example” of this — in Week 12, six teams in the top 25 in last week’s college football playoff rankings lost to unranked opponents (No. 5 Tennessee vs South Carolina, #13 North Carolina to Georgia Tech, #14 Ole Miss to Arkansas, #20 UCF to Navy, #22 Oklahoma State to Oklahoma, #24 NC State to Louisville).
Two of the top four teams in last week’s CFP rankings — No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 TCU — needed last-second field goals to survive against Illinois and Baylor, respectively, while No. 1 Georgia Kentucky by just 10 points batted and No. 2 Ohio State led Maryland by just three points at one point in the fourth quarter before hitting the last 10 for a 13-point win.
“It’s really, really hard to win, especially consistent,” Swinney said. “In college football, dealing with young people, anyone can have a bad day — anyone. It’s a tough, tough game. There is a lot of equality in college football. You may have injuries. There’s a lot of stuff that goes in and everyone can have a tag.”
Clemson (10-1, 8-0 ACC) enters Saturday’s competition ranked 10th in the nation in terms of schedule strength according to NCAA data for cumulative opponents, including games played and games remaining.
The Tigers are one of two Power Five teams with just one loss (Southern Cal) while only four teams remain undefeated (Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, TCU).
“So hard to win man,” Swinney said. “It’s hard to win.”
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