Yes, It's Important

CLEMSON — There is always someone who questions the real importance of winning a bowl game. With so many bowl games being played these days, why does it matter?

On the other hand, it shouldn't be too hard for those people to figure out why Clemson needs to beat Nebraska in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl on New Year's Day. The Tigers (7-5) have several.

"The biggest thing is that it would be four (wins) in a row and five out of six, and just taken care of business one more time," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said following Wednesday afternoon's practice. "The eight (wins) is significant in that it would separate this senior class. They would be the first class since 1991 to go four straight years with eight or more wins.

"It kind of separates them from the pack. It's really the only goal left as a team that we set forth several weeks ago that we have not obtained. We are going to do everything we can to achieve that one."

The 1991 senior class, which featured guys like Levon Kirkland, Rob Bodine, Ed McDaniel, Jeb Flesch and DeChane Cameron, won 39 games, including three straight 10-win seasons from 1988-90.

With a win over Nebraska, this year's senior class of James Davis, Aaron Kelly, Cullen Harper, Tyler Grisham, Rashaad Jackson, Michael Hamlin, Chris Clemons and Jimmy Maners can win their 33rd, the most by a class since the 1992 seniors.

For Swinney, that might be the best Christmas present he can give them.

"This senior group is already separated from the pack for me and hopefully they can do that in the history books as well," he said. "It has been a long time since 1991 and that will make them a little special as a group."

PICKING UP STEAM: Swinney says recruiting as the head coach as opposed to be being the assistant is no different.

"It is really no different than it has been. I kind of always had the tendency to talk anyway when I went into those homes. Now I don't have to cut Coach (Tommy) Bowden off anymore," he joked. "I can just but in on myself."

But all joking aside, Swinney says he and his staff have really picked some steam in the last week or so and he feels good about recruiting as they approach what is known as the dead-period.

"It is good we have a lot of momentum right now with our recruiting," Swinney said. "We have a lot of kids that are going to visit that weren't going to visit. We have gotten in on some kids that we were not in on.

"The feedback has been very, very good. We have to finish this week. No one is sleeping a lot right now because we are trying to burn at both ends with recruiting and preparation. We will close out with a good strong week and finish the dead period.

"There is always so much you can do there as far as staying in touch and hopefully we can go win this bowl game and keep that momentum going and ride it into the big official weekend period in January."

MAKING THE GRADE: Swinney says he isn't expecting anymore academic issues that will cause some of his players to miss the Gator Bowl. Right now only backup kicker Richard Jackson is ineligible to play.

Freshman Dawson Zimmerman, who was in a strong battle with Maners for much of the year for the punting job, will be Mark Buchholz's backup for the Gator Bowl.

INJURY UPDATE: There are no new injuries. Middle linebacker Stanley Hunter did not practice Wednesday and he will not practice until the team gets to Jacksonville, Fla., for the game.

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