Arguably the biggest game in ACC history will take place next Saturday in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson will kickoff the 2020 ACC title game at 4 p.m.
With a Tiger win, both teams are likely to be in the college football playoff.
While this year’s ACC title game is perhaps the “Must See” game of Championship Weekend, it’s a good time to remind the good folks out there that Clemson hasn’t exactly played a 6-6 Georgia Tech every December during the Tigers’ impressive 5-peat of ACC football championships.
While Saturday’s game is unprecedented in both ACC and CFP history, the narrative that Clemson has cake walked through the title game isn’t exactly the most fair stance to take. Nothing compares to year’s game and the national implications for both teams but if you take a step back, this is not hardly the first time Swinney’s gridiron gang has faced a ranked opponent in the ACC Championship.
2015: No. 1 Clemson 45 vs No. 8 North Carolina 37
2016: No. 3 Clemson 42 vs No. 19 Virginia Tech 35
2017: No. 1 Clemson 38 vs No. 7 Miami 3
2018: No. 2 Clemson 42 vs Pittsburgh 10
2019: No. 3 Clemson 62 vs No. 23 Virginia 17
Again I realize none of those games were as massive as this year’s game which features a top-five rematch from the regular season. The Irish defeated the Tigers 47-40 in double overtime back on Nov. 7. But the Tigers were without QB Trevor Lawrence, DT Tyler Davis, LB James Skalski, and LB Mike Jones Jr among others. During the course of the game, they also lost S Lannden Zanders, OG Matt Bockhorst and S Nolan Turner among others. This time around, the Tigers should be much healthier especially on the defensive side of the ball where they were gashed up at times in South Bend.
But if you really trust the CFP rankings, it’s unfair and inaccurate to say that Clemson basically gets handed the trophy in Charlotte for the last five years. The Tigers have stood tall the last five trips to the Queen City and you can bet they’ll be firing on all cylinders in a setting they are very much familiar with Saturday afternoon.
For Swinney and the Tigers, they’re already in playoffs and they begin Saturday at 4 p.m.