CLEMSON—The No.3/4 Clemson Tigers play host to the FCS in-state foe the Wofford Terriers Saturday (4 p.m., ACCN) in their second-to-last home game of the 2019 season.
The Tigers are already in the midst of a school-record 23- game winning streak, and last week, Clemson won its 20th consecutive home game. With another victory at Death Valley this week, Clemson can tie the school record for its longest home winning streak, matching the 21 consecutive Memorial Stadium victories posted across the 2013-16 seasons.
"This is a really good FCS team that I know will be pumped up and excited to play Clemson. For us, it's really just about playing well and continuing to build the momentum that we've had,” Swinney said. “I think after eight games, we've had an excellent season. We've played some good football all year long. To be 8-0 is where we wanted to go. We're clicking into November now and that's what we call our Championship Phase - an opportunity to compete for our division. We'll have our state championship. If you win the division, you get a chance to play for the ACC and that's really what we focus on. Whatever comes from the postseason comes. It's an exciting time. I'm proud of our team.
“I know this is a team that doesn't necessarily match up well with us on paper but as I always say, you don't play the game on paper. You play the games and there is plenty of history of FCS teams beating FBS teams. We just want to continue developing our team and playing well. That's our objective this week."
While many around the nation see Wofford as a push-over game and an easy win for the Tigers, head coach Dabo Swinney remembers a day not too long ago when the Tigers were booed at halftime in a game against the Terriers in 2011.
“Getting booed coming off at halftime. Everybody telling Coach (Chad) Morris to go back to high school. I heard that one a couple of times,” Swinney said. “It's why I shouldn't hire a high school coach, I heard that one a few times. That's probably what I remember more than anything. I remember them having the most open guy in college football history - that big tall, white kid that caught that ball. He literally backpedaled to catch it and then backpedaled to the endzone for 50 yards. He probably should've gotten an ESPY that year for the most wide-open wideout. That was a tough day. They had a big ol' running back. He was a great player. He was a sledgehammer, fullback.
“We won, I remember that more than anything. We played a little better in the second half. We were trying to figure out who kidnapped our quarterback. Chad was about to go crazy in the locker room. 'I don't know what happened. The quarterback...I just don't know.' Tajh settled in and we got it going in the second half. They played us tough."
This week will also serve as the Tigers' annual "purple-out" game, with the Tigers continuing their rich military tradition.
Saturday’s game against Duke will be Clemson's 26th Military Appreciation Day. The history of the special day dates to 1994 when Clemson had a special flyover for the Clemson vs. Georgia Tech game on Nov. 12, just one day after Veteran’s Day. Clemson had a flyover of four F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base during pregame as the highlight of the celebration that day.
Clemson has celebrated its military history every year since with the games held in November or when Clemson plays host to a school with its own military heritage. Clemson has a 21-4 record in the previous 25 Military Appreciation Day games. The Tigers have won 11 such games in a row, with the last loss coming against Virginia Tech in 2007.
“It's going to be an awesome week. This is always an unbelievable week with our Military Appreciation,” Swinney said. “I don't get to see everybody but I can't imagine that anybody does it better than Clemson, especially with our history and tradition and Memorial Stadium. It's going to be awesome. We've got a General coming in to speak to the team on Thursday, so I look forward to that. It's always a great week. It's hard to believe that we've only got two home games left, special opportunities. This is going to be another one this week.”
The task for the Tigers this week is to put together their best week of football on a week when everybody expects them to roll on their way to a 9-0 start.
"These games aren't easy," Swinney said. "Everybody thinks you just roll out there and win but you have to play well, especially when it's these teams that it's their scheme that kind of neutralizes you a little bit and it's advantageous in games like this. It will be a good challenge. We just want to go out and continue to play good, clean football and continue to build momentum.”