Coming off of a bye week, the Clemson Tigers find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
For the first time since 2014, Dabo Swinney's team lost two games in the month of September, meaning the Tigers have no realistic shot at making it to a seventh consecutive College Football Playoff.
However, despite the fact they do not control their own destiny, the Tigers (3-2, 2-1) are still very much alive when it comes to winning the ACC for the seventh time in a row. With so much still left to play for, Swinney insists that this team will be remembered for what they do over the next seven games more so than what they did over the first five.
"We're at halftime right," Swinney said. "And it doesn't matter... I always say, I got a thing on my desk, there's nothing less important than the score at halftime. I've had that for 30-plus years. Because this has never been a truer statement.
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"I've been 2-3 and played for the ACC championship. Been 1-2 and beat Oklahoma in the bowl 40-6. I've been 8-0, and we didn't finish. We 2-4 down the stretch, and everybody forgot about 8-0. This team will be judged by how we finish."
Coming off the bye week, Clemson now heads to Syracuse for a Friday night matchup with the Orange, and with so many goals still within reach for his team, Swinney said nothing has changed regarding how the Tigers will approach each opponent.
"We're in the hunt, but we got to take care of business," Swinney said. "I mean, and again if we were 5-0 wouldn't this be the biggest game of the year? I mean we need to win it right? Nothing's changed from our perspective. Your record doesn't have anything to do with how you should play."
Swinney maintains that there is still a lot of football to be played, but for now, he wants his team focused on the task at hand, which is beating Syracuse and getting their first road win of the season.
"So we got a long way to go," Swinney said. "And whether we were 5-0 we're sitting here 3-2, with two heartbreakers, we need to win the game. And there ain't nothing changed. Wouldn't be any different. And we gotta win on the road, you know, we haven't done that. We've been in position, but we got to finish."
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