Alabama and Clemson rank No. 1 and 2 in the country in wins since 2015, with the two teams combining for five out of seven national championships in that time frame.
Clemson has a 131-21 record since starting its current stretch of 10-win seasons in 2011. Only Alabama (140-14) has more wins since 2011.
Clemson’s lofty perch in that ranking reflects not only its dominance against middle and lower tier opponents, but also its success in matchups with other premier programs. Since 2011, Clemson has played 13 other programs ranked in the top 30 in wins by a Power Five program in that span. Clemson is 49-12 (.803) against those programs in that span and is .500 or better against 12 of the 13 teams.
Narrowed further among the winningest Power Five programs, Clemson is 8-5 (.615) against the top five, 12-7 (.632) against the top 10 and 21-10 (.677) against the top 15.
Clemson enters 2022 riding a streak of 11 consecutive seasons with 10+ wins. The program’s 10th consecutive 10-win season in 2020 made Clemson only the third program in FBS history to produce a “double-double” — double-digit wins in a double-digit number of consecutive seasons. Clemson’s gritty 10-win season in 2021 extended the streak to 11.
The record for consecutive 10-win seasons is 14, shared by Florida State (1987-2000) and Alabama (2008-21). This season, Clemson will attempt to join those two as the only programs ever to reach 10 wins in a dozen straight seasons.
The Tigers have 18 10-win seasons in school history, with 11 coming under Dabo Swinney.
Of the 130 active FBS schools, only 12 programs entered 2022 having won at least six games every year since 2015. That number dips to five when pushing the win total to eight, and drops all the way to two (Clemson and Alabama) when setting the bar at 10 wins.
Eight full seasons into the College Football Playoff era, Clemson has already cemented itself as one of the tournament’s powerhouses of its inaugural decade. Only 13 programs have earned at least one College Football Playoff berth, and Clemson ranks second in CFP berths, CFP title game appearances, total CFP wins and CFP titles.
Clemson’s six-year streak of College Football Playoff berths from 2015-20 was the longest streak in the format’s history.
Clemson recorded its 750th all-time victory in October 2019, becoming the 15th FBS program (and first ACC program) at the time to reach 750 all-time wins. Clemson became the first ACC program to reach 775 wins with a victory against UConn on Nov. 13, 2021.
Every January, Head Coach Dabo Swinney conducts his first official meeting with his new team. The first order of business in the meeting is to “reset the room,” reorganizing the seating arrangement with seniors in front and all succeeding classes in order behind them in the team auditorium.
Clemson’s recent senior classes have placed themselves among select company in college football history. The 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Clemson seniors account for four of only 13 four-year classes in FBS history to reach 50 career wins. That includes the 2018 and 2019 groups that are tied with the 2018 Alabama seniors for the most wins in FBS history (55 wins in four years).
The 2022 Clemson seniors (excluding “Super Seniors” using their extra year of eligibility afforded by the NCAA) are 34-6 since 2019, tied for the second-most wins of any active class in the country.
Even though the Tigers entered the final week of the season still alive in the conference title race for “A”nother “C”lemson “C”hampionship, Clemson’s six-year reign atop the ACC ended in 2021.
With a sixth straight conference title in 2020, Clemson became the first program ever to win 20 ACC Championships, five more than Florida State, which ranks second with 15.
That year, Clemson became the first program in the conference championship game era to win six straight conference championship games. Clemson also became the first ACC program to win six consecutive outright titles, as Florida State had a streak of nine straight ACC titles, but that streak included two co-championships that prevented Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles from ever winning more than three straight titles outright.
In 2020, Clemson and Oklahoma’s six-year streaks of outright titles made the two programs the first among current Power Five programs to win at least six straight outright titles since Oklahoma (12 from 1948-59) as part of the now-dissolved Big 8 Conference.
Including titles from its days as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Southern Conference, Clemson has 26 conference championships overall, also the most of any current ACC school. Duke ranks second among the ACC’s current membership with 18 overall conference titles, including 11 Southern Conference titles and seven ACC titles.
The Tigers won the 1900, 1902 and 1903 SIAA Conference championships under John Heisman, then the 1906 SIAA title under Bob Williams. Clemson also won the 1940 and 1948 Southern Conference titles under Frank Howard. Howard won eight total conference titles, including two in the Southern Conference and six in the ACC.
Clemson’s 26 conference titles all-time are tied for 11th-most among active FBS programs.
Early in his head coaching tenure, Dabo Swinney laid out his belief to then-Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips that the Tigers needed to add tough non-conference challenges on top of their tests in ACC play to serve as a foundation for the program’s growth.
“I had a conversation with Terry Don and said, ‘Terry Don, I know we are not very good right now, but we need to play people because that is going to help me teach and help me develop the culture and the mindset that you have to have to win at the highest level,'” recounted Swinney. “I didn’t think we had that, and that’s what we committed to. That’s what we’ve done.”
That scheduling philosophy and culture change has resonated in the Clemson program, and since 2013, no team can claim more wins against Power Five Conference opponents than the Tigers.
On a year-by-year basis, Clemson has finished the season atop the country in wins against Power Five opponents four times since the institution of the College Football Playoff in 2014, including four of the last seven years. That includes 13 wins against Power Five opponents in 2018, the first team ever to reach that figure.
While proud of his incoming classes, Head Coach Dabo Swinney has long stated that a true ranking of a recruiting class cannot and should not be published until four years later when the group can be evaluated on performance rather than potential.
Much to Swinney’s delight, The Athletic has annually assumed that role in recent years, re-ranking every recruiting class four years later to account for on-field performance.
For its re-rankings, The Athletic uses the following grading scale: 5 points: All-American, award winner, top-50 NFL Draft pick; 4: Multi-year starter, all-conference honors; 3: One-year starter or key reserve; 2: Career backup; 0: Minor or no contribution, left the program. The outlet also adds a bonus to each program’s class average, derived from its total number of wins from 2017 through 2020 (e.g.: For re-ranking the Class of 2017, Clemson won 51 games, so its class average received a bonus of 0.51).
Even in its current stretch of recruiting success, Swinney has often pointed out Clemson drops in rankings as its commitment to not oversigning leads to smaller recruiting classes, as well as noting that much of Clemson’s on-field success is a function of the program’s development, citing All-Americans like former three-star Isaiah Simmons or former two-star Nolan Turner. The re-rankings illustrate Clemson’s pristine recent track record of talent identification, culture fit, resource allocation and player development.
On average, Clemson finished roughly 12th in the 247 Composite team rankings across the 2014-18 recruiting cycles. Upon re-ranking those groups, despite having little room for improvement while recruiting at a Top 15 clip in that span, Clemson ranked 3.2 on average in the re-rankings, a ratings bump of about eight-and-a-half spots. Each of those Clemson classes averaged at least 12 wins a season during their careers.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s run of excellence in his tenure at Clemson has placed him in the company of college football legends.
Swinney boasts a career winning percentage of .806, sitting as one of only 14 head coaches in history with at least 10 seasons of FBS head coaching experience to post a mark of .800 or better.
With a win against Iowa State in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl, Head Coach Dabo Swinney earned his 150th career head coaching win in only his 186th career game.
Among coaches who qualify for the NCAA FBS record book by virtue of five years or 50 wins as a major college head coach, only 16 have ever reached 150 career wins in 200 games or less. Fourteen of the 16 are College Football Hall of Famers, with the 15th and 16th — Swinney and Urban Meyer — likely to be inducted upon meeting eligibility requirements.
Swinney became the sixth-fastest FBS coach to 150 career wins — two games behind Fielding Yost and Joe Paterno — and the fourth-fastest in the modern era.
Four previous Clemson head coaches earned 150+ FBS wins in their careers: John Heisman (186), Jess Neely (207), Frank Howard (165) and Ken Hatfield (168). Howard, a College Football Hall of Famer, is the only coach to reach 150 career wins as Clemson’s head coach. He recorded his 150th victory in his 273rd career game, in a 14-10 victory against Maryland in 1966 that clinched a piece of what later became an outright ACC title. Heisman earned win No. 150 in game No. 203, Neely earned it in game No. 268, and Hatfield did it in game 259, though none of those three won more than 43 games in their Clemson tenures.
Included below are the number of games needed for a sample of other notable coaches to reach 150 victories: John Vaught (201), Mark Richt (205), Red Blaik (207), Dan Devine (208), Woody Hayes (209), Bear Bryant (212), Ara Parseghian (212), Pat Dye (212), Bobby Bowden (213), Pop Warner (214), LaVell Edwards (214), Jim Tressel (214), Vince Dooley (214), Amos Alonzo Stagg (225), John Cooper (225), Frank Beamer (230), Lou Holtz (230), Bill Snyder (231), Johnny Majors (255), George Welsh (261), Hayden Fry (277).
With his 150th career win in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl, Dabo Swinney moved into third on the all-time leaderboard for the most wins through the first 15 years of a head coaching career in FBS history, moving past College Football Hall of Famer Barry Switzer.
Impressively, Swinney has amassed his total despite not having the benefit of a full season in his first year. Swinney went 4-3 on an interim basis in his first season in 2008 after taking over for Tommy Bowden in October.
Swinney can add to his total in his 15th season in 2022.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney leads the NCAA’s list of winningest active head coaches by percentage with a minimum of 10 years of experience.
Despite having coached fewer seasons than all of the coaches listed ahead of him and despite having never coached at lower NCAA levels, Swinney ranks tied for ninth among active FBS head coaches in total wins.
Over the last decade, Clemson became a beacon of stability in the increasingly unstable environment of college football. Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney is in his 20th overall season at Clemson in 2022, including his 14th full season as head coach (and his 15th including an interim stint in 2008).
From the start of Swinney’s first season as full-time head coach in 2009 through 2021, there have been more than 400 head coaching tenures in the FBS (excluding those by interims), but only one such tenure at Clemson.
Clemson is the only school in the ACC with only one head coach since the start of the 2009 season, and among the 11 schools ever to qualify for the College Football Playoff, only Clemson and Alabama have had only one head coach since 2009.
By date of initial hire (including interim hires), Swinney is the ninth-longest-tenured head coach in the FBS and the sixth-longest tenured among Power Five conference head coaches.
Including his time as an assistant coach, the 2022 season will be Swinney’s 20th at Clemson. Swinney will be one of only eight active FBS coaches to have been with their current program for 20+ years.
Since the conference’s founding in 1953, no program has won more regular season games in Atlantic Coast Conference play than Clemson. With a win against Virginia in 2020, Clemson earned its 300th official regular season victory over an ACC opponent, becoming the first program to accomplish the feat.
After being named Clemson’s full-time coach in December of 2008, Head Coach Dabo Swinney set about securing his first signing class in 2009.
His first class, which he tabbed the “Dandy Dozen,” brought home Clemson’s first ACC title since 1991 during their junior campaign in 2011. Every Clemson signing class under Swinney except for the classes of 2021 and 2022 has at least one ACC title to their credit in their tenures at Clemson, and every signing class from 2012-20 earned at least one College Football Playoff berth.
Clemson has appeared in the Top 25 of 165 of a possible 180 AP polls (91.7 percent) since 2011, tied for third-most in the nation.
Clemson was ranked in the top 25 of 107 consecutive AP polls across the 2014-21 seasons, which was the second-longest active streak in the nation prior to its conclusion. It was the longest streak in school history, more than doubling 50-poll streaks from both 2011-14 and 1989-92.
Prior to dropping to No. 6 following a one-possession loss to the eventual national champions in the 2021 season opener, Clemson had ranked in the Top 5 of 57 consecutive polls, dating to 2017. That ranked as the second-longest Top 5 streak in the history of the AP Poll, which dates to 1936.
Clemson’s school record streak of consecutive polls in the AP Top 10 concluded at 97, the third-longest streak in poll history.
Clemson has finished ranked in the AP Top 25 in each of the last 11 seasons, the second-longest streak in the country. Clemson is one of only three teams with a streak of at least 10 years and is one of only six teams to be ranked in each of the last five seasons.
That streak includes a stretch of 10 consecutive years finishing in the AP Top 15, second only to Alabama’s 14-year streak. From 2015-20, Clemson recorded six consecutive AP Top 5 finishes, tied for the fifth-longest streak in AP Poll history.
In the 2019 and 2020 preseason polls, Clemson became the sixth program since the inception of the preseason poll in 1950 ever to open consecutive preseason polls at No. 1, joining Alabama (2016-18), USC (2004-05), Oklahoma (1985-87, 1974-75, 1956-57), Ohio State (1969-70) and Notre Dame (1953-54).
Prior to topping out at No. 3 in 2021, Clemson appeared at No. 1 in at least one AP Poll in six consecutive years from 2015-20. Dabo Swinney joined Nick Saban (13) as the only coach in AP Poll history (since 1936) to lead a team to at least one No. 1 ranking in six consecutive years. Clemson, Alabama (14 from 2008-21) and Miami (seven from 1986-92) are the only programs to appear at No. 1 in at least six consecutive years.
Clemson has played 22 games all-time as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team in the AP Poll, tied with mid-century powerhouse Army for 14th-most in poll history. Twenty-one of those games have been coached by Dabo Swinney, 17th-most all-time.
A total of 22 coaches have led the AP’s top-ranked team into a game at least 15 times. Eighteen of the 22 coaches on the list are College Football Hall of Famers. Swinney holds a total of nine career victories over five coaches on the list, including two each over Bob Stoops, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier and one over Bobby Bowden.
Despite not reaching No. 1 until 1981, Clemson has been No. 1 in 25 polls all-time, 15th-most of any program.
Since 2015, Clemson is 24-7 (.774) against AP Top 25 teams, the best winning percentage in the ACC and third-best winning percentage in the country.
Clemson is also 12-6 (.667) against AP Top 10 opponents in that time frame, one of only five teams in college football to produce double-digit wins against Top 10 foes in that span.
Clemson’s success hasn’t been limited to teams ranked at the time of the game. Since 2015, Clemson’s 56 wins against teams that finish above .500 rank second nationally and its .862 winning percentage against teams that finish the season above .500 ranks second.
At the end of September last year, Clemson sat at 2-2 with a bevy of injuries, and the Tigers’ season seemingly sat at a very early crossroads. Clemson rebounded from that 2-2 start by winning eight of its last nine games to extend its historic streak of 10-win seasons.
“I really think that this has been one of [Swinney’s] best coaching jobs,” Wake Forest Head Coach and ACC Coach of the Year Dave Clawson said. “Sometimes when everything goes your way, things run themselves. This has not been a year that everything bounced their way, and you can tell he’s never lost his team. They’ve gotten better.”
Swinney routinely cited the foundation of the program and its success being paved through adversity throughout the season. He often cited the ability to teach lessons in a season like this that resonate differently at 4-3 than they do at 15-0. He noted that though his team had disappointment, true football adversity was something most of his team had not faced.
So Swinney, who said he’s “really had a lot of fun coaching this group and coaching this season,” challenged his squad to respond and finish the right way. “They’ve rallied, they’ve battled,” Swinney said. “The foundation of our program has won the day for us.”
On Oct. 1 of last season, 28 different Power Five teams had two or more losses. Of that group, only Clemson (10-3) and Utah (10-4) rebounded to finish with 10 wins.
Clemson finished the 2021 season with as many or more wins than 43 Power Five teams that were 2-2 or better through September.
In rattling off 10 consecutive 10-win seasons from 2011-20, Clemson’s dominance resulted in the Tigers playing only 32 games decided by one possession, the 13th-fewest in the FBS in that span (with many of the teams ranked lower having not played at the FBS level throughout that entire timeframe). Despite the few opportunities, no team had a better record in one-score games in that span than Clemson, which was 27-5 in games decided by eight or fewer points from 2011-20.
The Tigers diverged a bit from their runaway-game reputation in 2021, as cardiac Clemson had seven of its 12 games against FBS opponents in 2021 be decided by eight or fewer points (and nine of the 12 be decided by 10 or fewer points). Clemson nearly played another one-possession game against Florida State on Oct. 30 until a defensive touchdown on a desperation lateral play on the final play of the game gave Clemson a 10-point victory margin over the Seminoles.
Clemson’s seven one-score games in 2021 tied for seventh-most in the country, and Clemson’s nine games with a margin of 10 or fewer points tied for second nationally.
The 2021 Tigers finished one game shy of the school record for the most games in a season decided by eight or fewer points.
Since 2011, the Tigers have played 39 games with a final margin of eight points or less, and Clemson’s .821 winning percentage in those one-possession contests is the best in the country in that time frame.
Clemson’s success in tight games comes despite Clemson ranking among the nation’s best in both wins by 21+ points since 2018 and average margin of victory in that span.
Attrition unlike any Clemson had faced in the Dabo Swinney era reared its head in 2021. By the time Clemson wrapped up its 2021 Cheez-It Bowl win, for various reasons, the Tigers were without the services of 30 scholarship players from the start of the season.
“You can’t really do anything about injuries,” Swinney said after a loss to Pittsburgh last October. “It’s some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever been a part of since I’ve been in college football. It’s crazy some of the things we’ve dealt with.”
Clemson had 48 different players record at least one start in 2021, eight more than its 40 different starters in 2020’s erratic and unpredictable pandemic-impacted season. Only 23 Clemson players played in every game, and only six started every game (including kicker and punter).
Clemson’s lone losses in 2021 came in one-score games against No. 1 Georgia and No. 20 North Carolina State and a 10-point loss to No. 13 Pitt, three teams that finished 2021 with a combined 34-7 record (all AP rankings from final poll).
Clemson has lost only 10 games since 2015 and only six games since 2018. Six of Clemson’s 10 losses since 2015 have come against AP Top 5 teams, and those six were all College Football Playoff participants that season.
The opponents to whom Clemson has lost since 2015 have a combined final record of 104-25, a winning percentage of .806. Since 2018, opponents responsible for Clemson’s defeats have a combined final record of 65-10 (.867).
With Clemson having been eulogized and all but left for dead after a 4-3 start in 2021, there wasn’t much national optimism for a rebound or for Clemson to carry much momentum in 2022.
Instead, Clemson won its final six games of the 2021 season and entered 2022 with the longest active winning streak in the Power Five and the second-longest winning streak in the FBS at large.
Clemson enters 2022 riding a school-record 34-game winning streak in games played at Memorial Stadium.
Clemson’s 34-game home winning streak is the longest active streak in the country and is one of only 24 home winning streaks of 30 games or more in FBS history.
Since the advent of the College Football Playoff prior to the start of the 2014 season, Clemson is 53-1 at home. Clemson’s .982 winning percentage at home in that time frame is the best in the country, beating Alabama’s 52-2 home record in the same span.
Between ACC Championship Games, bowl games and College Football Playoff National Championship Games, Clemson has won at least one postseason game in each of the last 11 years.
The last time Clemson did not win at least one postseason game was in 2010, when Clemson lost in the Meineke Car Care Bowl after not qualifying for the ACC Championship Game.
Included below are a number of additional historically profound streaks presently being produced by Clemson:
– Has won 92 of its last 102 games overall dating to 2014.– Has won 58 of its last 63 games against ACC teams.– Has won 96 of its last 98 games, including each of its last 59, when leading at halftime.– Is 118-2 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.– Is 66-4 when scoring first since 2015.– Has a 116-2 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.– Has a 67-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.– Is 72-1 when rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.– Is 56-0 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.– Is 56-2 since 2015 when outscoring opponents in the “Middle Eight,” defined as the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half.– Is 56-2 when having a 100-yard rusher since 2011.– Has won 30 of its last 34 games away from home against ACC teams.– Has won 30 of its last 34 road games.– Has won 47 of its last 56 games away from home.– Has won 55 of its last 56 games at home, including a school-record 34 in a row.– Has won 42 of its last 44 games against ACC Atlantic Division teams, including games against typical Atlantic division foes in a division-free season in 2020.– Has won 20 of its last 22 games against the Coastal Division since 2015, including games against typical Coastal division foes in a division-free season in 2020.– Has won 26 of its last 28 games in September.– Has won 30 of its last 32 games in October.– Has won 19 of its last 20 games in November.– Has won 15 games in a row in December.– Has won 25 of its last 32 games against top-25 teams since the start of the 2015 season. That includes a 24-7 mark against AP Top 25 teams.– Has won 97 of its last 98 games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010), including 89 straight prior to a season-opening 10-3 loss to Georgia in 2021.
In Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s tenure, the Tigers have routinely responded well following dips in the AP rankings.
Under Swinney, Clemson is 28-6 in games in which it enters ranked lower in the AP Poll than it did in its previous contest. This includes the 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2021 season openers in which Clemson opened the season lower than its ranking from the final game of the previous campaign. Before a loss to Georgia to open 2021, Clemson had won its previous 17 games when entering ranked lower in the AP Poll than in its previous game.
Clemson is also 29-7 in games following a loss under Swinney, including season openers following a loss in the previous season finale. Losses to Top 5 opponents Ohio State and Georgia across the 2020 and 2021 seasons ended a streak of 127 games since losing back-to-back contests, which had been the longest active streak in the nation and the longest in ACC history.
Previously, Clemson’s last time losing back-to-back games had come in 2011. That also represents the last time Clemson has lost consecutive games in a single season.
Clemson has won 58 of its last 63 games vs. ACC opponents, a time frame that features ACC Championship Game wins against North Carolina (2015), Virginia Tech (2016), Miami (2017), Pitt (2018), Virginia (2019) and Notre Dame (2020).
Clemson has an active winning streak against 11 of its 13 ACC counterparts, with at least three games comprising each of those 11 streaks.
Clemson’s 10 selections to the 2021 All-ACC Team were second-most in the conference. Clemson has now produced double-digit All-ACC selections in each of the last seven seasons.
Clemson collected four first-team selections, all from the defense, as defensive tackle Tyler Davis, linebacker James Skalski and cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. and Mario Goodrich all earned first-team nods. Three Clemson players were selected to the second team, including offensive tackle Jordan McFadden, defensive end Myles Murphy and placekicker B.T. Potter. Defensive end Xavier Thomas, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and safety Andrew Mukuba rounded out the selections with third-team honors.
In January, Clemson set a program record for a third straight year by placing 12 members of its 2021 squad on the ACC’s annual All-ACC Academic Team, which recognizes both academic and athletic excellence. Clemson’s 12 selections led the conference.
From 2015-21, the Tigers produced a total of 25 All-ACC selections along the offensive line, including 10 first-team honors. Clemson’s 25 all-conference selections by offensive linemen are the second-most of any Power Five program, and its 10 first-team selections are tied with Washington for the fourth-most in that span.
Clemson’s success in its 49-6 run since 2018 has been powered in part on both sides of the line of scrimmage, where Clemson holds a 189-76 edge over opponents in sacks in that time frame. Clemson’s +113 margin in sacks since 2018 is the second-highest differential in the country.
Since the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, Clemson has routinely produced one of the nation’s elite defenses.
Clemson has ranked in the Top 15 in the country in total defense in each of the last eight seasons and has ranked among the Top 25 in scoring defense in all of those campaigns (including four Top 5 finishes in the category). The 2021 season was Clemson’s sixth time finishing in the Top 10 in both categories in the last eight years.
Clemson is the only program in the country to produce a Top 15 defense in each of the eight previous years.
Clemson’s seven Top 10 finishes in total defense in that span are tied for the most in the country.
Clemson has held opponents under 300 yards of offense 35 times since the start of the 2018 season, the most in the country.
Before losing to Georgia, 10-3, in the 2021 season opener, Clemson had won 89 consecutive games when holding opponents under 23 points, a streak that dated to the 2010 season. Since 2014, Clemson has held opponents to 22 or fewer points in 80 games, the most in the nation. Clemson is 79-1 in those contests.
Clemson is 97-1 in its last 98 games when holding opponents under 23 points, a timeframe that dates to the 2010 season.
Since making staff changes after allowing 70 points in the Orange Bowl to end the 2011 season, Clemson has allowed only 1.13 points per possession against FBS opponents, the second-fewest in the country in that span. No program has given up fewer points per possession against FBS opponents since 2018, as Clemson’s 0.96 points allowed per possession since the start of the 2018 season makes Clemson the only program in the country to allow fewer than a full point per drive to FBS opponents.
Clemson’s defense calls Death Valley home but might as well file for dual residency in opponents’ backfields. Since 2012, Clemson leads the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss.
Clemson has led the country (or shared the national lead) in tackles for loss in half of those seasons. No other program has done so in more than two seasons.
Clemson recorded 42 sacks in 2021. Clemson passed the 40-sack mark for an eighth straight season — every year of the CFP era. Clemson’s eight 40-sack seasons in that time are the most in the country.
Clemson has posted 48 multiple-sack games since 2018, the most in the FBS. Clemson has recorded at least two sacks in 43 of its last 48 games.
Clemson has finished in the Top 10 in third down defense in eight of the last nine seasons and ranks No. 1 in combined third down defense in that span.
SportSource Analytics tracks three-and-out percentages as well as “Hard Stops,” possessions in which a defense forces a turnover, creates a three-and-out or makes a fourth down stop. Clemson leads the nation in both since 2013.
Clemson’s 78 400-yard games since 2015 are the second-most in the nation.
Clemson’s distribution of talent throughout its offense and its willingness to adapt to how defenses are game planning has resulted in the Tigers fielding one of the nation’s more balanced offenses in recent years. In 2018, Clemson set a school record with 3,723 rushing yards. In 2020, Clemson set a school record with 348.5 passing yards per game.
Clemson has exceeded both 200 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in 56 games under Dabo Swinney, posting a perfect record in those contests. Clemson’s 22 such games since the start of the 2018 season are among the five most in the country.
Since 2018, Clemson is one of only two programs in the county to both rush for at least 11,000 rushing yards and pass for at least 15,000 passing yards. Clemson was also the only program in the country to rush for 150+ rushing touchdowns and throw 120+ passing touchdowns from 2018-21.
Before scoring 522 points (tied for second-most in the country) in a pandemic-truncated 2020 season, Clemson scored 659 points in 2019, concluding the season only five points shy of tying the school record of 664 set in 2018.
Clemson remains responsible for two of the 22 650-point seasons in major college football history and two of only 16 since Division I split in 1978. Clemson was the first school with back-to-back 650-point seasons since Yale in 1888-89, predating the start of official NCAA recordkeeping in 1937 and the second year of which was coincidentally the year Clemson was founded.
Clemson has put points on the board in 253 consecutive games since last being shutout in the 2003 season opener. It is one of 20 streaks in FBS history exceeding 250 games.
Clemson emphasizes the importance of turnover margin every week on what it dubs “TANOGA Tuesday,” standing for “TakeAways, NO GiveAways.”
Here is a breakdown of Clemson’s turnover history in games coaches by Dabo Swinney:
Clemson ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in takeaways in both 2019 and 2020 and has been among the nation’s cumulative leaders in takeaways since 2018.
Clemson’s offense and defense have both been dominant in possessions following turnovers since the 2018 ACC Championship Game. Since that time, the Tigers hold a 332-93 advantage against opponents in points off turnovers.
In 2021, Clemson allowed only 27 points off turnovers. However, 21 of those points came off of two pick-sixes and a strip-sack fumble return, so the Clemson defense surrendered only an incredible six points on possessions following a Clemson turnovers last year.
The only offenses to score following a Clemson turnover in 2021 were South Carolina State, which turned a fumble at the Clemson 36 into a field goal, and Iowa State, which turned an interception at the Clemson 28 into three points.
In four of the last five seasons, Clemson led all Power Five conference teams in average players per game. Prior to the 2021 season in which Clemson’s playing rotations were limited by significant attrition, the last time Clemson did not lead Power Five teams in that category was in 2016, when Clemson finished second in that category.
Clemson has not only often led the nation in that category, but has typically lapped the field. In 2019, Clemson played an average of 76.0 players per game, an average that far exceeded all Power Five programs by more than 11 players — a full unit — per game. Clemson’s lead in that category in 2020 was more than seven players per game.
Clemson finished fourth in the Power Five with 63.9 players per game in 2021 but tied for the Power Five lead in total players played.
Even prior to the adoption of new redshirt rules, Clemson routinely played close to 60 players or more per game under Swinney.