Clemson football going for most dominant run in ACC history


by - Staff Writer -
Trevor Lawrence is leading a Clemson run on pace to be the most dominant in ACC history.
Trevor Lawrence is leading a Clemson run on pace to be the most dominant in ACC history.

Five-straight Playoff appearances. Two national titles in the last four seasons. Five ACC championships.

It’s been quite the run for a Clemson team that just had its first-ever No. 1-rated recruiting class (ESPN) and entered 2020 as No. 1 in the nation preseason.

The Tigers’ dominance brings natural comparisons to Florida State’s run under Bobby Bowden, which captured ACC crowns each season from 1992-2000 and two national titles in that span with a .884 winning percentage over the 1990s decade.

Clemson’s accomplishments in the last five seasons include the first 15-0 season in modern college football history and a .932 win percentage (a solid .836 win percentage with six total ACC titles over the decade too).

“It's very similar in that the majority of teams that Clemson plays today -- they're just more talented,” ACC Network analyst and former Florida State assistant in their glory run Mark Richt told reporters on a Zoom call this week. “And I'm not saying they're (ACC teams) not getting (out-coached). Part of coaching is recruiting. My hats off to coach (Dabo) Swinney and his staff and they know what they're doing obviously. You take great coaching, great athletes, great depth -- it's just tough to beat them.

“So you have Clemson beating the brakes off of people and at halftime they're deciding how many more series they're going to give their starters before subbing everybody. We'll let everybody play -- and that's what it was like at Florida State.”

ACC Network analyst Eric Mac Lain played his part in Clemson’s rise over the last decade as an offensive lineman.

“We were talking with producers the other day and kinda joking about coach Richt's time at Florida State and how he used to feel bad for opposing teams coming in because he knew what Florida State was about to do those guys,” Mac Lain said. “And I think that's about the level Clemson is on now. You look at some of these games on the schedule, and especially years' past, and you have so much firepower and so much NFL talent everywhere you look that it's almost like a different league of their own and that's what you have kinda seen from them. Especially these last five years and who knows where the future is going with Clemson just getting its first-ever No. 1-ranked recruiting class.

“There are a lot of things to get excited about if you're a Clemson Tiger fan. I think the comparison to what Florida State was in terms of sheer dominance and attack on offense and having a tremendous defense that people are fearful of what they do and how they do things -- I think that's a fair and easy comparison to make.”

Former FSU QB E.J. Manuel doesn’t see Clemson’s run stopping any time soon.

“I think coach Swinney has built something that's special and it's going to be tough for another team to really take the crown so to speak,” the ACC Network analyst said. “You look at the defense and the way that they've been dominant -- they're a tough team. I couldn't imagine -- well, actually, I could, when you prepare for a team like that -- you know that you can't mess up. You know that you can't make any mistakes, if you throw a bunch of interceptions that they're going to beat you. If you fumble or can't handle red zone or third down, they're going to beat you because they're going to score points.

“That's what you want from an overall team and I don't see a team taking them down, necessarily, specifically this year or the next two or three years.”

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