CLEMSON – When the Clemson Tigers travel to Miami next Saturday to take on the 8th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, it will be Clemson’s third game against a Top 15 team within the first seven games of the season.
By the time Saturday night is completed, Clemson, Miami and Washington will be the only three schools in the nation to have played three Top 15 teams [rankings at the time of the game], and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney spent the early part of his Sunday teleconference with the media talking about the game and what it would mean if the Tigers could win against the Hurricanes.
“It would be great,” Swinney said. “We want to win whether they're nationally ranked or not. Miami is a team that's playing very good. It's a tough place to play. It's an opportunity for us to go play on national television and hopefully just keep getting better as a football team. We want to build off of what we did and try to get on a good run. They'll be able to match our skill as good as anyone we've played. But we're looking forward to it."
Swinney also said that playing against talented Miami quarterback Jacory Harris will present its own set of problems. Harris is averaging 253 pass yards per game, good for 21st nationally.
"He's pretty talented, and he's a pretty cool customer,” Swinney said. “I don't think we've played anyone more talented, but the kid from TCU was a winner and Riley Skinner the same. They were very good. Harris has made some big, big throws and has made some good runs. He probably is [the most talented quarterback Clemson has faced]. Ask me on Tuesday, because we're just getting into studying them."
This is the first time Clemson has faced three top 15 teams within the first seven games of the season since 1971 when Clemson met 14th ranked Georgia, 14th ranked Duke and fifth ranked Auburn all within the first seven games of the season.
The only other time it has happened was in 1966 when Frank Howard’s Tigers faced ninth ranked Georgia Tech, fourth-ranked Alabama and fifth-ranked Southern California all within the first five games of the season. Howard was the athletic director then also, so he only had himself to blame for that killer schedule. This will be just the third time in Clemson history the Tigers have faced three top 15 teams within the first seven games of the season.
Clemson lost by three points (30-27) to a Georgia Tech on September 10. Tech was ranked 15th by AP and 13th by USA Today Coaches poll entering that contest. On September 26, Clemson lost to TCU at Clemson by a 14-10 score. The Horned Frogs, who are still undefeated, ranked 15th by AP and 14th by USA Today entering that game. Georgia Tech, TCU and Miami are all ranked in the top 12 in the nation entering this week.
The combined record of Clemson’s first seven opponents is 30-15 for a .667 winning percentage.
Swinney said that if the Tigers want to knock off the Hurricanes, they will have to continue to execute like they did against the Demon Deacons.
“It’s continuing to practice the right way and understanding that it matters when you do things the right way,” Swinney said. “You have to believe that you're the difference in the play. The little things matter. I think we'll have their attention. Again, they had a lot of success against a good team. It gives you more credibility when this happens."
Swinney said the beating a good Wake Forest team soundly will also help with the Tigers’ confidence as they stare down the rest of their schedule.
“You gain confidence when you play well and you get the results,” Swinney said. “That's the biggest thing you get out of it. Our team will be confident. Hopefully we'll be able to carry over the attention to detail and the focus. I don't think we'll have any problem at all getting them ready to play. They'll be ready to go, I assure you. You just have to make sure you harness their energy in the right direction."