Swinney says being an underdog to Alabama "just comes with it"


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Swinney and Saban will face off for the third time in the last three years
Swinney and Saban will face off for the third time in the last three years

Clemson is in a familiar spot heading into the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Underdog.

Clemson will face Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2018, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the final College Football Playoff poll released on Sunday while Alabama is ranked fourth.

This will be just the second time in FBS history that two teams meet in the postseason three consecutive years. Southern California and Ohio State met in three consecutive Rose Bowls at the end of the 1972, 1973 and 1974 seasons.

This will be the third consecutive year that Clemson will face Alabama in the postseason, and when the opening betting lines were released, the Tigers were the underdog. Alabama defeated Clemson 45-40 in the National Championship at the end of the 2015 season in Phoenix, Arizona, while the Tigers won last year 35-31 in Tampa, Fla.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney took the news of Clemson’s underdog status as business as usual when it comes to playing the Crimson Tide.

“Well, I mean, I don't really have any thoughts. We're going to get ready to go play,” Swinney said. “And, I mean, Alabama -- pretty much everybody plays Alabama is probably going to be an underdog. So that just kind of comes with it. But, you know, we're going to get ready and do what we do. You know, none of that stuff really matters. It just comes down to how you play on that day, and we've been fortunate to find a way to win a bunch of those games. It's all about this one.”

Swinney said playing the Crimson Tide for the third straight season doesn’t make the task any less difficult.

“I don't think so. We play people in our conference every year. So, I mean, it's just kind of -- just a little more familiarity because you've played them the previous couple years,” he said. “But, what's hard is when you play a great team. It's hard. Any time you play a great team, it's really, really hard. But, you know, in our conference there are certain teams we play every single year that, you know -- you just know it's going to be a heck of a battle. Even though Alabama is not in our conference, I mean, any time you line up to play those guys, you know it's going to be an "everything you got" type of game. But we look forward to it.”

Swinney played in the Sugar Bowl as a player – for Alabama – and is looking forward to coaching in the game.

“This is a great privilege to be a part of the playoff. And really, really excited about going to the Sugar Bowl. I actually was with Alabama in '89, '89 Sugar Bowl against Miami as well,” he said. “We lost that one. But just so excited to come back. And I want to say congratulations to Alabama and Coach Saban and their staff, team. What a great year they had as well. And no doubt, this will be a heck of a matchup.

“Obviously played each other last two years, and it's come down to a few plays. And I don't doubt this one will be the same. But it's exciting to a part of it. Like I said, just really looking forward to coming to the Sugar Bowl. 59 years since Clemson has been there. And I don't have any doubt that the Clemson fans will turn out, and it will be a great -- just a great showing all the way around. But very thankful for the opportunity.”


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