ATLANTA (AP) Each of the four College Football Playoff coaches was asked to talk about his team's ability to recover from a loss.
Only three had an answer.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney grinned as he was skipped on that question in Thursday's news conference. Top-ranked Clemson (13-0) stands alone as the only undefeated team in the playoff.
The Tigers will face Oklahoma in the Dec. 31 Orange Bowl playoff semifinal. Later that night, Alabama and Michigan State meet in the Cotton Bowl.
Clemson hasn't won a national championship since 1981, but now the Tigers have their chance to end the drought.
Swinney was prepared when asked if the Tigers are ready for the big stage.
''They're 13-0,'' Swinney said. ''We played on a big stage all year.''
''It's been a fun group. They've responded to every challenge. If we get beat it won't be because they got overwhelmed by the big stage,'' he said.
The coaches took a break from their recruiting schedules for a news conference at the College Football Hall of Fame before Thursday night's awards show.
Oklahoma (11-1) has won seven straight since a 24-17 loss to Texas. Michigan State (12-1) won four straight following a loss to Nebraska. Alabama (12-1) lost to Mississippi in its third game of the season before recovering to win the Southeastern Conference championship.
''They had their backs to the wall early in the season losing a game and they responded time and time again,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
''The players responded extremely well. We didn't do anything different, but I could tell the players had much more intensity to prove that they were going to do to get better.''
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio told similar stories of new-found resolve from their players following a loss.
''The message that was sent was this is an opportunity to grow also,'' Dantonio said.
Stoops said he saw an immediate sign in practice that his players wouldn't let the loss to Texas spoil their season.
''What I noticed immediately was as much energy as any practice we had,'' Stoops said. ''Guys had all kind of energy. You could tell there was a determination they were going to do something about it. There was a determination to improve.''
Clemson has won 10 or more games in five straight seasons. The Tigers beat Oklahoma 40-6 in last season's Russell Athletic Bowl. Clemson beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl following the 2013 season and beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after the 2012 season. The Tigers won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2011 for the first time since 1991.
Swinney was selected the Home Depot Coach of the Year on Wednesday. The Tigers will take a 16-game winning streak into the playoff, the nation's longest active streak.
Swinney said Clemson deserves its place with the game's elite teams.
''There's no question Clemson belongs,'' he said. ''We've been as consistent as anybody out there in the county and then you've got to step out of your conference and be able to win big games and we've done that.''
This year's bowl trip provides a new challenge. The four teams are playing to advance to the national championship game, but Swinney said he's still keeping the focus on one game.
''It's not about planning for another game,'' Swinney said. ''It's about winning this game.''
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org