SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football

CLEMSON — For the first time since last year’s national championship game, the Tigers may get to don their orange pants in Saturday's game at N.C. State.

Not because it is a nationally televised game on ABC in prime time.

No, they only don their orange pants because a championship is on the line — the Atlantic Division title. The Tigers could be playing for their fifth straight division crown Saturday night if the Wake Forest Demon Deacons lose their game at Virginia Tech, a contest that takes place at 3:30 p.m. and should be completed before the Tigers and the Wolfpack take the field (7:30 p.m., ABC).

The Tigers open every season with five goals in front of them: win the opener, win the division, win the ACC Championship and win the closer. Along with the potential to accomplish their second goal of the season comes another honor — wearing the orange pants that are only worn when a championship is on the line.

However, when he was asked whether the Tigers would carry two pairs of pants to Raleigh this week, their traditional white and their championship pants, head coach Dabo Swinney kept his cards close to the vest.

But for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, putting on those pants signifies all of the work the team has put in throughout the season.

“It just kind of represents where we are in our season,” Lawrence said. “We’ve put a lot of work in to get to where we are. We are still in control of our own destiny. It doesn’t really mean anything. We are still going to play how we play. It does signify that we are getting toward the end of the season and these games are starting to have a different mood because these are championship-type games.”

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Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott he remembers when the Tigers were more focused on their uniforms than the opponent, which was one of the first things that Swinney changed when he became head coach.

"When Coach Swinney took over, he wanted to bring some uniformity to our uniform policy,” Scott said. “In the past, it was seniors get to vote what they want to wear ... and Coach Swinney wanted there to be some consistency. I think from the beginning, he started that we only wear those orange pants when there's a championship on the line.

"So I think our guys know that we've got an opportunity to win the division championship this week and that means we get to put those orange pants on and it's something that they look forward to and take a lot of pride in.”

Those championship pants will come with a great challenge this week, as the Tigers will take on a Wolfpack team that is out to salvage its season, while playing spoilers for the Tigers.

"We've got a great challenge and great opportunity this week,” Scott said. “Obviously, it's an opportunity for us to accomplish our second goal, which is to win the division. The way our goals are set up ... the first goal is to win the opener and then it's taken us 10 weeks now to get an opportunity to reach our second goal — which is win the division.

"We've been racking off a lot of different records and things that haven't been done — I don't believe there's been an ACC team win five division trophies since they started the two divisions. So that will be something our guys have an opportunity to accomplish."

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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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