"They win the games. Auburn is the national champion because nobody can knock them out," said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. "So far, nobody has been able to do that. It doesn't matter if we were up 17 or Alabama was up 24. Auburn is the team that's put a 17-game winning streak together.
"It hasn't always been pretty, but they found a way to win. At the end of the day, that's all that matters."
The once potent Auburn offense, which averaged 499.21 yards in 2010, has put up a somewhat pedestrian 372.5 yards this season.
Opposing offenses ran for 109.07 yards a game a season ago, while Utah State and Mississippi State rushed for 227 and 333 yards, respectively this year.
The 280-yard average is third-worst in the country.
Auburn also went down to the wire in both games, squeaking out a 42-38 win over the Aggies in the opener before beating the Bulldogs 41-34 seven days later.
The similarities between Clemson and Auburn are endless. (Roy Philpott)
So here Clemson and Auburn sit, undefeated at 2-0, just as they were a year ago when the ACC Tigers made the trek to Alabama.
Of course, the SEC Tigers squeaked out a 27-24 overtime win a year ago. But Swinney hopes his team's fortunes can be turned around this year.
"We've got a lot of guys on this team that have lined up and competed against the guys that won the national championship, so I think you always draw on your experience," Swinney said. "Certainly our guys, the older guys on our offensive line, the older guys on our defensive line, Andre Ellington, Nuke Hopkins, Jaron [Brown], Dwayne [Allen], [Chad] Diehl.
"We have quite a few guys that have the memories of playing that team last year that went on to win it all. I think we can draw some confidence from that, because they feel they can line up and play with anybody."