Tigers say they've done enough to make the College Football Playoff
|Sunday, December 4, 2016, 1:49 AM- -|
ORLANDO, FL – Clemson’s coaches and players had a strong message for the College Football Playoff Committee following the ACC Championship Game Saturday night.
We deserve to be in the playoff.
Third-ranked Clemson survived a 42-35 thriller against Virginia Tech at Camping World Stadium to improve to 12-1 and capture its second consecutive ACC Championship. In the playoff rankings, top-ranked Alabama defeated Florida in the SEC Championship Game, number four Washington defeated Colorado Friday night in the PAC-12 game, while number two Ohio St. didn’t play.
Fifth-ranked Michigan didn’t play, but seventh-ranked Penn St. knocked off sixth-ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. Could Clemson’s close win cost them points with the committee and elevate another Big Ten team into the conversation when the final rankings are announced at noon on Sunday?
Receiver Deon Cain says the Tigers have done enough to prove to the committee that they belong.
“We have. A lot of people have doubted us throughout this whole season saying that we're going to have a lot of upsets and stuff like that,” Cain said. “We had a tribulation with Pittsburgh, but we still fought through and showed everybody that we're still capable of winning a national championship and being a contender in the playoff.”
If the Tigers wind up ranked second or third, they will likely wind up in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, the site of last year’s title game. A number four ranking would slot them into the Peach Bowl against Alabama.
“It doesn't really matter to me as long as we're in the playoffs,” Cain said. “Wherever we're at, I just know we're going to win and finish it and get to the national championship.”
Senior defensive tackle Carlos Watkins said the Tigers should be a lock for one of the top four spots.
“Most definitely, we deserve to be in the playoff. I definitely feel that way,” Watkins said. “I guess we'll see tomorrow. I hope we get selected. It doesn't matter who we play. Just let us line up. It would probably help a lot of fans show up (if we played in Atlanta), but it really doesn't matter where we play. Just put the ball down and we'll play. It doesn't matter who we play or where we play.
“We've got another chance. Coach Swinney said we're four quarters away from the national championship. We've just got to see who we play next and stay focused and continue doing what we're doing and finish strong.”
Senior tight end Jordan Leggett knows the Tigers are likely headed to the desert, and he’s ok with that.
“We've done everything we needed to do. We won the conference, so there is no reason to not put us up there in the top four. We took care of business,” Leggett said. “This team is special, and we are all out there playing for the person beside us. I'd love to go to Atlanta, because it's closer and more fans would come to the game but we will probably wind up in Phoenix. I am not too against that, so it would be fun. I’d rather not play Alabama in the semifinal, I would rather play them in the championship so if we win we can say we beat the best.”
Senior linebacker Ben Boulware says the Tigers’ resume speaks for itself.
“I feel like we've done enough. We had the slip up against Pittsburgh, but at the end of the day if you watch the teams we've played our strength of schedule and taking care of business,” Boulware said. “We didn't dominate like we thought we would tonight but we still won. They're a championship team too and they won their division, so it's not going to be a blowout of a game that we had to defend against. We won the game when we had to, so we think we definitely should be in that top four.”
He then added that he doesn’t care where or who he plays – he just wants to erase the pain of last year’s loss in the title game.
“We want to get some revenge. We want to finish things the right way and go out on top,” he said. “We're going to figure out who we play tomorrow and start game planning for a great game wherever it's at. We don't care if it's in the desert or in Clemson or Atlanta, wherever the hell the game's at. I just want to play another game. I want to play football. I'm just happy we're still alive and we've still got some more fight in us.”