Clemson vs. UNC

Xavier Thomas (3) for Clemson applies pressure on UNC quarterback (7) Sam Howell in the 21-20 Clemson win at Chapel Hill.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has faced the Tar Heels of North Carolina only five times in his 11 years as the head coach of the Tigers, due to the ACC's scheduling quirks between the two divisions.

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But even after a narrow, one-point victory over the Tar Heels last week, it is a series that Swinney would like to happen more often.

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"Yeah. This is my 17th year in Clemson, and I've only been here (Chapel Hill) twice now, so it's kind of a crazy deal," Swinney said. "But yeah, I think it's great. I love playing road games, and we talked about all that stuff every year. Whatever they want to do, hey, tell me, it's not my job. I'm just going to coach. Playing eight games, nine games, change the divisions. Go to three ... What do you call them? The permanent people. I can't process all that stuff. I'm just going to let all the administrators and all that stuff tell me who we're going to play, and we go play them.

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"I'll tell you, it's a beautiful place though. I haven't been here in a long time. What a beautiful campus? It's really a beautiful campus and great facilities. They've done an awesome job. When we were here in '09, we were in a bunch of trailers."

Those trailers have been replaced with a new north end zone complex that rivals the best complexes in college football. But more than the upgraded facilities, Swinney believes that is good to take his Tigers on the road to experience different environments — especially ones that hold so much history within the ACC.

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"This west end zone, if you will. Kind of like our west end zone. This is a really nice place," Swinney said. "And so it's cool to be able to come up here. I haven't been here and so I couldn't really remember it, had been here except for the one time. So it's neat for our guys to be able to come up here, great environment, thought their fans were really good and our fans were good. We had a lot of fans here. It was a good matchup.

"Clemson, North Carolina I think played every year for ever and ever and ever and ever. But it just where we are right now with big conferences and divisions and all that stuff. So you just take it as it comes. Certainly was a great college football game today. And I'm sure there's a lot of people disappointed that the Tigers came out on top. But we did."

Even though the Tigers were victorious last Saturday, Swinney fully expects the Tar Heels to rebound, and possibly face the Tigers in a rematch the first weekend of December in the ACC Championship.

"No, no. I think they can be there. They're undefeated ... Well, they got one loss now," Swinney said. "I told our guys, I was like, 'These guys got the same opportunity we got. They want to win their division.' And they still can win their division. This is not a division game for them. So it's a loss in the conference. But they still, they can beat anybody in their division. They can beat anybody in this league. There's no doubt in my mind, if they stay healthy. They don't have great depth, but they've got enough to beat anybody in this league. So nothing would surprise me."

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io


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