The Clemson Tigers for the fifth straight season are in the College Football Playoff, this time as the No. 3 seed in the final rankings announced Sunday.
The Tigers will travel to Phoenix to take on No. 2 Ohio State in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28. The trip west marks the Tigers' third to Phoenix in the last five seasons.
In 2016, the Tigers played in the CFP National Championship, then later that same year traveled to Phoenix to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl.
The top four teams in the final rankings are: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma.
The playoff will feature LSU taking on Oklahoma in the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl and Clemson taking on Ohio State.
While many in the Tiger fan base are upset with the fact the defending and undefeated national champions are not the No. 1 team, head coach Dabo Swinney is thankful his team has a chance to defend its title.
"I really don't care (where we are ranked). I mean, just as long as we can be somewhere in the top four, I think we deserve that. We've earned that," Swinney said after Clemson won the ACC Championship.
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He acknowledged that his Tiger team is not the only one in the nation to finish the season 13-0, as LSU and Ohio State both accomplished the feat.
"It's hard to be undefeated in any league," Swinney said. "Ohio State and LSU, I mean, unbelievable, unbelievable years because it is so hard. I have such a great appreciation for that accomplishment. LSU has been an unbelievable team.
"(The ranking) really doesn't matter. We'll play somewhere and play somebody and be thankful for the opportunity. We’re 13-0 and these guys continue to get ready week in and week out," Swinney said. "We just want to have an opportunity to compete for the whole thing. I think we’ve done enough to get somewhere in that top four, wherever they put us we just want a chance to play and see if we can get to the top of the mountain.”
Clemson Sports Information advises that fans should stay tuned to ClemsonTigers.com/Bowl for more information on tickets, merchandise and more. Fans wishing to learn more about official Clemson travel options for the postseason are encouraged to visit ClemsonSportsTravel.com or call 877-373-5060. Fans can also visit the Clemson Tigers Store to get official ACC Championship and College Football Playoff merchandise.
Clemson will be making a bowl appearance for the 15th consecutive year, adding to its current school record that began in 2005. In total, it will be Clemson’s 45th bowl appearance, with the Tigers entering their upcoming bowl schedule with an existing 24-20 all-time record in bowl play.
The game will be a rematch of Clemson’s only prior Fiesta Bowl appearance in school history. On Dec. 31, 2016, the second-seeded Tigers shut out the third-ranked Buckeyes in a 31-0 victory that sent Clemson to its second straight College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The 31-point victory was the worst margin of defeat in a bowl game in Ohio State history and marked the first time an Urban Meyer-coached team had been shut out in 194 games as well as the first time Ohio State had been shut out since 1993.
Though Ohio State enters the bowl season with the second-most all-time wins in FBS history, Clemson holds a 3-0 all-time record against the Buckeyes. The two programs first met in the 1978 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., a 17-15 Clemson victory that represented Danny Ford’s first game as Clemson head coach and Woody Hayes’ final game as Ohio State head coach.
The game is perhaps most notorious for an interception by Clemson’s Charlie Bauman with two minutes left, in which Bauman picked off an Art Schlichter pass and was punched by Hayes upon running out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline.
Prior to their most recent meeting in 2016, the teams also met in the 2014 Orange Bowl as Clemson concluded the 2013 season with its first BCS bowl victory. Clemson earned a 40-35 victory, as the Tigers forced four second-half turnovers, including a fumble and interception on the Buckeyes’ last two possessions, to rally from a halftime deficit for the win. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins set Tiger and Orange Bowl records with 16 receptions and 227 receiving yards to garner MVP honors, while quarterback Tajh Boyd accounted for 505 yards of total offense and six touchdowns.