Miami has had an explosive season, suffering only one loss this season last week to Pitt. The Hurricanes want to be able to rotate their Turnover Chain throughout the defense in their first ever trip to the ACC Championship game. The only thing standing in their way: Defending national champion Clemson. Dabo Swinney is looking for his 101st career win with the Tigers and his team is vying for a third straight ACC title.
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson is relishing another chance to play in a big game.
It’s nothing new for the accomplished Tigers.
Clemson, No. 1 in The Associated Press poll and the latest College Football Playoff rankings, is 39-3 the past three seasons, including 13-1 against ranked opponents. Next up is No. 7 Miami (10-1) for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
The Hurricanes fell from second in the CFP to seventh after losing 24-14 at Pitt last Friday.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 29, 2017
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is grateful his players understand what it takes to succeed in the biggest games. But he thinks this year’s challenges have molded the current team more than past triumphs.
Clemson (11-1) had a September that forged its championship dreams, defeating Auburn (14-6), Louisville (47-21) and Virginia Tech (31-17), the latter two on the road.
“That’s where this team’s confidence comes from,” Swinney said.
Still, players who have gone through it before know how to prepare and compete when the stakes are the highest, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel said.
“As far as been there, done that, we’ve been there and we know what it takes,” he said.
That was particularly critical for a team that lost 11 starters from its national title season in 2016, seven of those coming on offense, including first-round NFL draft picks in quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver Mike Williams.
Miami coach Mark Richt accepts that Clemson has the clear edge in recent postseason experience. He believes, however, the Hurricanes have had several crucial games this season that have given them enough moxie to compete with the defending national champs.
Richt said the Hurricanes’ 41-8 home win over Notre Dame was a raucous atmosphere that his team handled well.
“That was about as big as it gets,” Richt said. “It was good to have that experience.”
Clemson cornerback Ryan Carter is happy for any edge the Tigers might bring to the title game — and experience is a major one.
“That’s big for us,” Carter said.
This article was written by Pete Iacobelli from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.