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Clemson tiger paw

CLEMSON — Fans looking to make the trek to see the second-ranked Clemson Tigers play in their fourth straight College Football Playoff semifinal game this year at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl will have to loosen their post-holiday purse strings.

In fact, this year’s game that features a matchup with the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish is the most expensive ticket in the last four seasons for the Tigers. A ticket starts at $66 more than the second semifinal game featuring the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners.

The cheapest ticket, according to TicketIQ, for the Tigers and the Fighting Irish on the secondary ticket markets, as the Cotton Bowl announced a sellout the day the two teams were announced, comes in at $240 — not including airfare and accommodations.

In fact, the ticket prices are likely not to come down in the coming weeks. They opened at $206 and this year’s game is already the highest priced Cotton Bowl in the last eight seasons.

X-factor for the Irish

When asked what is an X-factor that each of the four head coaches in the College Football Playoff see in their opponent, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney sees a confident “battle tested” group when he looks at the Fighting Irish.

“I would say they're battle tested. They've been in some great venues this year, some unique places that they've had to go play,” Swinney said. “They've played some excellent teams, and they have -- they've had a lot of different challenges. I'm just kind of really diving in deeply into their season.

“But they've handled adversity. They've played with leads. They've come from behind. They've done a little bit of everything. So I think just that overall experience that they've had this year, you can see a very confident football team. They're incredibly well-coached. They don't make a lot of mistakes, and I think the balance that they have really presents some problems. I would just say the confidence and the fact that they're battle tested and from the experience that they've had this year gives them every reason to be confident going into this postseason.”

When the head coach of the Fighting Irish, Brian Kelly, was asked the same question, he responded that the X-factor for the Tigers is the culture of winning.

“Well, obviously when you talk about playing an opponent, it's the ability to close games out, the ability to know how to win, and that's Clemson,” Kelly said. “They know how to win football games. They've been winning.

“I think everybody that's up here has developed and built a winning culture within their football team. You can't pin that on any one particular player. That's something that's within the fabric of the football program that's been built over time. So that would be the X-factor.”

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