Tigers enter ACC Championship chasing a conference record
|Friday, November 30, 2018, 7:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON – A little after 5 pm Friday afternoon, No. 2 Clemson will take the team buses to Bank of America Stadium and do a pre-ACC Championship Game walk-through. Saturday, the Tigers will chase history.
The first time the Tigers played in the stadium under head coach Dabo Swinney, it was a disappointing bowl loss to South Florida that capped off a 6-7 season in 2010. Eight years later, the Tigers will be in search of another piece of history when the team takes to the field against the Coastal Division champion Pittsburgh Panthers in the 2018 ACC Championship Game. Kickoff from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
A win on Saturday would give Clemson its fourth consecutive ACC title and make the Tigers the first team in the conference’s 66-season history to win four consecutive outright titles. Bobby Bowden’s Florida State squads earned at least a share of the ACC title in nine straight seasons across the 1992-2000 campaigns but never earned four outright titles in a row. Clemson would be the first Power Five team to win four consecutive conference title games since Florida rattled off four straight SEC Championship Game wins from 1993-96.
The Clemson senior class enters the contest with an ACC-record 52 career wins. Featured among that group is defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who is expected to play in his 57th career game on Saturday, which would tie fullback Chad Diehl (57 from 2007-11) for the most career games played in school history.
“It's definitely something very special. I mean, it's very hard to accomplish,” Wilkins said. “Means a lot to me and my teammates in this program. You don't see this every day, every year, an opportunity for a team to be the so-called top dog in a conference, in a tough conference at that, four years in a row.
“That's just a testament to our program, the guys on the team, the coaching staff. What everyone has been able to do, everyone buying into the vision of the program, doing the most they can to make sure Clemson has the most success as possible. Definitely means a lot to the seniors on the team. We lead the team each and every day. We put it all into the program for four or five years, so it's great to see the results on the field.”
Senior wide receiver Hunter Renfrow said the team is well aware of the record.
“Yeah, that's something that obviously has not been done before. For us, it would be incredible. I think from here on out kind of we just keep breaking records, especially the senior class. It's something we shoot for, being our best, being the best we can be,” Renfrow said.
“Winning four division titles, then hopefully having a chance to win four ACC titles in a row, would be incredible for us. I know it just shows the hard work and the daily grind and consistency really. It's tough to do it one year, let alone four in a row. That would be pretty special, something that those seniors next year can build upon, the team next year.”