The Oklahoma Sooners learned Sunday afternoon that they’ll face off against the top-ranked Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff in the Orange Bowl on New Years Eve.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops spoke with the media shortly afterward. Sooners Illustrated brings you three major points from Swinney’s first words in preparation for the bowl game.
Take No. 1: Being an underdog doesn’t matter
All season long, Clemson has been the favorite. Through all 13 games – all wins, the Tigers were picked to win whether it twason the road or at home. But they opened Sunday as 2.5-point underdogs to red-hot Oklahoma, the fourth seed in the College Football Playoff.
Swinney took it in stride.
“All these teams are capable of winning on any given day,” Swinney said. “That’s why we’re in the final four. … We know we’re going to have to play our best four quarters of the year.”
Swinney added that the difference between the top four teams is so small that the seeds don’t really matter.
Take No. 2: Long season-ending stretch helped the Tigers
Like Oklahoma, Clemson finished the season with a long stretch of continuous games. It was 10 to be exact, all but one game of the ACC schedule and including the conference championship game.
Swinney said the Tigers were fortunate to be as healthy at the end of it as they were at the beginning. Clemson is only without receiver Mike Williams and safety Korrin Wiggins, two players who were ruled out for the season before the stretch began.
“We were pretty health as far as just the injuries standpoint,” Swinney said. “Certainly you’d be foolish to think that a ten-game stretch doesn’t take a little bit of a toll, especially when you’re getting everybody’s A-game every week. . . . It’s just good to be able to give these guys a break. They need some time to get a little bit of the wind back in their sails.”
Take No. 3: Back in the Orange Bowl
Clemson not only has good memories of the last time it played Oklahoma, but it can look back fondly on the last time it played in the Orange Bowl.
One week before Halloween, the Tigers went down to Miami and routed the Hurricanes, 58-0.
That won’t make much of a different on New Years Eve, though.
“I don’t think that really has anything to do with it,” Swinney said. “Oklahoma’s got a long history in the Orange Bowl. Obviously we’ve played there. It’ll be a split crowd. It’ll be a lot of a mixture of orange and red. It’s all about the guys between the lines. . . . It doesn’t matter where the game is being played. It’s about how the game is played.”