SEC Killers

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson Tigers running back Roderick McDowell (25) celebrates after a touchdown. (Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)

CLEMSON – Top 10 SEC opponent? No problem.

Eighth-ranked Clemson became the first non-SEC team in NCAA history to defeat two top-10 SEC opponents in back-to-back games after they defeated No. 5 Georgia 38-35 in front of 83,830 fans in Death Valley Saturday night, building on the momentum gained in last season’s 25-24 Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU.

The game actually marked the third straight game the Tigers have played against an SEC opponent – the South Carolina Gamecocks were ranked 13th nationally before winning in Death Valley in the season finale at the end of the 2012 regular season.

With the win, the Tigers have now won three out of the last four games against teams from the SEC, a streak that started with Clemson’s win over Auburn in the season opener last season. The win also salvaged the opening weekend for the ACC, which lost the previous two games against SEC teams when North Carolina lost to South Carolina Thursday night and Virginia Tech got smacked around by Alabama earlier Saturday.

The prevailing thought nationally is that teams from outside of the SEC can’t compete with SEC speed, but the truth is that SEC teams win games – and national championships for teams like Alabama – at the line of scrimmage, and Clemson defensive tackle Grady JarrettGrady Jarrett
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#50 6-1, 290
Conyers, GA

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said that is where Clemson won both the game against LSU and against Georgia Saturday.

“We won the game in the trenches, man,” Jarrett said outside the locker room after the game. “You all can mark me down on that. The film doesn’t lie. We won that game up front on the defensive line. I feel like we were ready for them, minus the big plays, but we got hats on them.”

Defensive end Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Jr. Defensive End
#93 6-5, 270
Columbus, GA

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said Clemson’s players wanted to show they weren’t an entirely finesse team.

“I think we showed everybody that we are not a soft team or just a finesse team,” Crawford said. “We showed we could line up and pound it with the big dogs, or whoever we line up against.”

Crawford then said that Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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preached all during fall camp what a win Saturday would mean for the program in terms of national perspective.

“We can go toe-to-toe with anybody in the country,” Crawford said. “That was a big thing he was pushing this week, and we took it to heart. We wanted to show them that we could play with them. He was telling us that it had never been done that an ACC team had beaten two Top 10 SEC teams in consecutive games. We took that to heart and made sure it happened.”

Clemson quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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said the win was “monumental.”

“I think it was a good win. Nothing that we didn’t expect in the program, but I think it turned a lot of heads in college football,” Boyd said. “It was a very monumental win for this university, for this program, for the conference in general. I think we were the only non-conference team to beat two top-ten SEC teams in a row and all that good stuff is great, but we just have to continue to keep working and keep our eyes on the prize. This is only the opener. We have 11 more games left. We just have to continue to work.”
Running back Roderick McDowell said the Tigers have to build off of the win, however, and not think about the victory past Saturday night.

“Clemson is here just like Stephone [Anthony] said when he was coming here,” McDowell said. “Clemson is coming and this right here really stamps it forward. There are more games to come. We just can’t say ‘okay we beat Georgia, now everything else is easy now.’ Every day we have to come to play.”

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