Dabo Swinney Defends Decision to Rank Ohio State at No. 11 on Coaches Poll Ballot

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney knew ranking Ohio State at No. 11 on his final Coaches Poll ballot wouldn't be a popular move, but he's standing by his decision.

During a Monday morning press conference ahead of Friday's Sugar Bowl, Swinney explained how the Buckeyes' schedule played a role in his final rankings.

"There is no question Ohio State is good enough to beat us, any of us, to be a national champion. I didn't rank anybody that didn't play nine games or more in the top 10. That's why they were 11. ... I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State," he said, via CBS Sports.

Swinney pointed out how he ranked the Buckeyes at No. 4 on his final 2017 ballot and placed the program ahead of Alabama. Ohio State won the Big Ten title that year but failed to make the College Football Playoff, while Alabama claimed the fourth CFP spot despite not qualifying for the SEC championship game.

"I'm an equal opportunity guy. I think the games matter. I don't think it's right that Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Florida [and] Cincinnati got punished because they played more games."

On last week's end-of-season ballot, Swinney put Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Coastal Carolina ahead of Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes (6–0) played only five games in the regular season before defeating Northwestern in the Big Ten title game to capture their fourth straight conference championship.

Swinney acknowledged that he knew his ballot would be made public, but he wasn't concerned over how Ohio State fans might react to his rankings.

"What's right is right," he said. "I could probably run for governor in Michigan and have a good chance. Not too popular in Ohio."

Friday night's Sugar Bowl clash between No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State will be a rematch of last year's CFP semifinal in Fiesta Bowl, which the Tigers won 29–23.