CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney has been a part of many great moments in both his playing career at Alabama and his coaching career at Clemson.
What his team achieved Saturday in its last game at Memorial Stadium is something he's never seen before. The Tigers won their 34th consecutive home game with a 48-27 victory over Wake Forest that sent the senior class out in style.
"Five years in a row, undefeated at home. That's just unbelievable," Swinney said. "I've never been a part of that. Back-to-back senior classes walking out of here undefeated. Firs time since 1941. There's a reason why it's been that long. It's unthinkable in today's football. It's hard to win. Just proud of our seniors."
On a day where Clemson honored players like veteran linebacker James Skalski in their final home game, Clemson played its best contest of the year and won for the sixth time in the last seven games to salvage its season and stay alive in the ACC Atlantic hunt.
"It was our best day on our last day at home," Swinney said. "It was a lot of fun with these seniors all week. We've got to tip our hats to these guys. Tons of disappointment and noise. Lots of guys out. We've got 17 guys out right now for the year. Another guy gets hurt in warm-ups today. It's crazy.
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"They were sitting there at 2-2 (in September) and now they've won six out of the last seven and they rallied and they battled. We've had some really tough games. The foundation of our program has won the day for us. Toughness, attitude, no-quit attitude, belief in yourself and team and physicality. You saw it all today."
The Tigers did it on both sides of the ball, holding Wake to 17 points below its season average and producing its best offensive output of the conference season. It was a heck of a birthday present for Swinney, who also celebrated his big day Saturday.
"It came down to offense today," Swinney said. "As good as our defense has been, they've been there all year, this was the day the offense took it over and just kept answering. Never really gave them a chance to get in the game because that offense just kept answering. You've got to give credit to the offensive line."
Swinney said he felt like the defense would play well and stop the run but still give up a few big plays to a high-powered Demon Deacons offense. That's how it played out, but the Tigers put up over 543 total yards and overcame three turnovers by forcing three of their own.
Swinney said it made for a "special locker room" celebration knowing that his players "finished well."
"Today was a championship game," Swinney said. "For us to have any hopes at all we had to win the game to stay alive and we definitely didn't want anybody to come in here to the Valley and get a trophy. Our guys were very focused on what they needed to do."
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