10 Best: Top Moments In Dabo Swinney Era

Since the arrival of head coach Dabo Swinney, the Clemson football program has been on an upward trajectory that now has them among the elites of the sport. The program has experienced one big win after the other, coinciding with winning two national championships.

In a continuation of All Clemson’s 10 Best series, today we count down the biggest moments of the Dabo Swinney era, which includes many of those monumental wins. 

10. Swinney’s First Career Win

After losing to Georgia Tech in his first game as interim head coach, Swinney and the Tigers would bounce back the next week, knocking off Boston College 27-21. The win snapped a six game losing streak to the Eagles and earned Swinney an orange colored Gatorade bath in the ensuing celebration. 

9. First Win Over South Carolina In 2008

As interim head coach in 2008, the general consensus was that Swinney needed a victory over the in-state rival Gamecocks to secure the job on a permanent basis. That is exactly what happened as James Davis and C.J. Spiller combined for more than 170 rushing yards to help lead the Tigers to a 31-14 win in Death Valley.

8. First ACC Championship Since 1991

In 2011 Swinney led Clemson to its first conference title in two decades when the Tigers defeated third ranked Virginia Tech 38-10. The win put Clemson in its first Orange Bowl since the 1981 season and its first ever BCS Bowl. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that I’m taking my Clemson talents to South Beach, baby.”- Dabo Swinney’s opening remarks following the win

7. First Ever BCS Bowl Win

Two years after being embarrassed by West Virginia in their first BCS Bowl appearance, the Tigers were back in the Orange Bowl and this time the results were different. Swinney and Clemson would knock off Urban Meyer and Ohio State 40-35 behind a record setting performance from Sammy Watkins, who reeled in 16 catches for 227 yards, and two touchdowns. 

“Two years ago we got our butts kicked on this field. And it has been a journey to get back. We’re 22-4 since that night. And we are the first team from the state of South Carolina to ever win a BCS game.”- Dabo Swinney said afterwards.

6. Snapping Losing Streak Against Gamecocks

Swinney had already won a conference championship and a BCS Bowl. One of the next hurdles his program needed to clear was breaking the five game losing streak to Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks. To make matters worse and unbeknownst to fans, starting quarterback had torn an ACL in the days leading up to the game. Watson would soldier on however, and lead Clemson to a 35-17 win in Death Valley, the first of six straight wins over the Gamecocks. A streak that is still alive today. 

5. (T) Swinney Takes Media Member To Task

After Clemson’s 43-24 win over Georgia Tech in October of 2015, Swinney was not happy about a question a member of the media asked. Despite not having lost to an unranked opponent in four years, the reporter asked the Tigers head coach about Clemsoning, and Swinney’s fiery response made headlines. 

5. (T) B.Y.O.G 

The No. 12 Tigers used a last second defensive stop on a two point conversion to beat No. 6 Notre Dame 24-22 in a torrential downpour. The game moved Clemson to 5-0 in the 2015 season, and was the moment when everyone outside of Clemson started to realize the Tigers were a legitimate playoff contender. Swinney’s postgame ESPN interview gave birth to the infamous B.Y.O.G slogan.

“Listen, we give you scholarships, we give you stipends and meals, we give you nice uniforms and a place to live. I can’t give you guts. I can’t give you heart.’ … Tonight it was BYOG, bring your own guts. They brought some guts and some heart and they never quit until the last play.”-Swinney in postgame interview

4. 2012 Chick Fil A Bowl (4th And 16)

Clemson’s 25-24 win over LSU was a defining moment in the Dabo Swinney era. It was a performance in which the Tigers were more physical in the trenches against one of the better teams in the country with a reputation for its physicality. The win was the first step towards changing the narrative about a Clemson program that had been generally termed as “soft” up that point.

3. First Ever College Football Playoff Appearance

After seven seasons as the Tigers head coach, Swinney guided Clemson to its first ever playoff appearance with a 13-0 record and number one ranking. The Tigers would eventually fall to Alabama in the national title game but the program had put the rest of the country on notice, that the Tigers were here, and they were here to stay. 

2. Swinney’s First National Championship

After coming up just short the season before, Swinney and the Tigers would finish the job in 2016 by knocking of Alabama 35-31. Hunter Renfow hauled in a two yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson with just one second left to give Clemson a thrilling come from behind win. 

1. Swinney’s Second National Title

Following the 2018 season, Swinney and the Tigers won their second national championship in three years, unequivocally establishing themselves as a national power with a dominating 44-16 win over Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Following the season, Swinney would agree to a new 10 year contract worth $93 million, making him one the highest paid coaches in the country.

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