Alabama and Clemson rank No. 1 and 2 in the country in wins since 2015, with the two teams combining for five out of eight national championships in that time frame. With a dominating win in the 2022 ACC Championship Game, Clemson became only the second program in the FBS to win 100 games since 2015.
Clemson has a 142-24 record since starting its current stretch of 10-win seasons in 2011. Only Alabama (151-16) 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, 37 different programs currently in Power Five conferences entered 2023 with at least 85 wins in that span. Clemson has played 15 of those 37 programs since 2011 and is 62-19 (.765) in those contests and is .500 or better against 14 of the 15 teams.
Narrowed further among that group, Clemson is 12-8 (.600) against the top 10 teams and 22-11 (.667) against the top 25.
The record for consecutive 10-win seasons is 15, as Alabama’s 15th consecutive 10-win season in 2022 broke Florida State’s record of 14 from 1987-2000. With its 12th consecutive 10-win season in 2022, Clemson joined Florida State and Alabama as the only programs ever to reach 10 wins in a dozen straight seasons.
The 2022 season was Clemson’s 19th 10-win season in school history. It was Clemson’s 12th such season under Dabo Swinney.
Of the now 133 active FBS schools, only nine programs have won at least six games at the FBS level every year since 2015. That number dips to five when pushing the total to seven wins and to three when dropping it to eight wins.
Nine seasons into the College Football Playoff era, Clemson has cemented itself as one of the tournament’s powerhouses of its inaugural decade. Only 14 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.
Among the 14 programs ever to qualify for the College Football Playoff, Clemson is one of only five to hold a positive point differential in CFP play.
Clemson’s six-year streak of College Football Playoff berths from 2015-20 was the longest streak in the format’s history.
Clemson became the first ACC program and 14th FBS program to reach 775 wins with a victory against UConn on Nov. 13, 2021. Clemson needs 11 more wins to become the first ACC member to reach 800 all-time victories.
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.
Several of Swinney’s senior classes 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 2023 Clemson seniors (excluding “Super Seniors” using their extra year of eligibility afforded by the NCAA) are 31-8 since 2020, tied for the third-most wins of any active class in the country.
After a one-year hiccup in 2021, Clemson reclaimed the ACC throne with “A”nother “C”lemson “C”hampionship in 2022. The conference title was Clemson’s seventh in eight years, as the Tigers became the first team in an active Power Five conference to win seven outright conference titles in an eight-year span since Alabama won eight SEC titles in nine seasons from 1971-79.
Two years earlier, Clemson became the first program ever to win 20 ACC Championships, distancing further from 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.
Including titles from its days as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Southern Conference, Clemson has 27 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. Swinney matched Howard with his eighth conference title in 2022.
Clemson’s 27 conference titles all-time are the 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 Nov. 12, Clemson became the first program to reach 100 victories against Power Five opponents since 2013.
Clemson’s national-best 102 Power Five wins since 2013 include victories against Boston College (10), Wake Forest (10), Georgia Tech (9), Syracuse (9), NC State (8), Louisville (8), Florida State (7), South Carolina (7), Notre Dame (3), Ohio State (3), Miami (4), North Carolina (4), Virginia (3), Virginia Tech (3), Alabama (2), Pitt (2), Auburn (2), Oklahoma (2), Texas A&M (2), Georgia (1), Duke (1), Maryland (1) and Iowa State (1).
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 .805, 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.
Dabo Swinney’s 161 wins rank second by a head coach in Clemson history, trailing the 165 wins compiled in 30 seasons by College Football Hall of Famer Frank Howard. Howard, known as “The Bashful Baron of Barlow Bend,” compiled a 165–118–12 in 30 seasons at Clemson from 1940-69.
Swinney sits four games shy of Howard’s perch as the winningest coach in school history despite having coached 95 fewer games.
Entering 2023, nine active FBS coaches are the winningest coaches at their respective institutions.
Swinney enters 2023 as one of five active coaches within 15 wins of becoming their program’s all-time wins leader.
The 2022 Orange Bowl was the 200th game in Dabo Swinney’s head coaching career. Among coaches who qualify for the NCAA FBS record book by virtue of five years or 50 wins as a major college head coach, 17 coaches have earned at least 150 victories in their first 200 career games as head coach. Fifteen of the 17 are College Football Hall of Famers, while the other two — Lance Leipold and Urban Meyer — are, respectively, active or not yet eligible.
At 161-39 through 200 games, Swinney tied Bob Stoops and Robert Neyland (162 each) for the fifth-most wins through 200 career games in major college football history.
A year earlier, Dabo Swinney earned his 150th career head coaching win in only his 186th career game in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl. he 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).
Dabo Swinney completed his 15th season (and his 14th full season) in 2022 with a 161-39 record. Swinney amassed the second-most wins through a coach’s first 15 seasons in FBS history despite not having the benefit of a full season in his first year, as he went 4-3 on an interim basis in his first season in 2008 after taking over for Tommy Bowden in October.
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 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 21st overall season at Clemson in 2023, including his 15th full season as head coach (and his 16th including an interim stint in 2008).
From the start of Swinney’s first season as full-time head coach in 2009 through 2022, there were more than 435 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 14 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 enters 2023 as the eighth-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 2023 season is Swinney’s 21st at Clemson. Swinney is one of only seven active FBS coaches to have been with their current program for 20+ years.
While the term “Final Four” may still be the linguistic property of college basketball, since the advent of the four-team College Football Playoff in 2014, Head Coach Dabo Swinney had Clemson among the sport’s final four teams six times from 2015-20, becoming the first coach to lead a team to six consecutive College Football Playoffs since the format’s institution in 2014.
The NCAA men’s college basketball tournament dates to 1939. In the history of that tournament, only John Wooden of UCLA (nine from 1967-75) and Mike Krzyzewski of Duke (five from 1988-92) coached teams to at least five consecutive Final Fours. With his sixth “Final Four” appearance in 2020, Swinney joined basketball’s Wooden as the only college football or men’s basketball coaches to take teams to six consecutive Final Fours in their respective sports.
During Wooden’s streak of nine straight Final Fours, he recorded eight championships and a semifinal loss. Coach K’s Blue Devils recorded two championships, a second-place finish and three semifinal losses. Nick Saban’s Final Four history includes three championships, three runner-up finishes and a semifinal loss, while Swinney so far has two championships, two runner-up finishes and two semifinal losses.
Swinney is among only nine coaches in football and men’s basketball to record six career Final Four berths. He is one of only six with a winning record in Final Four games.
Swinney’s ability to place his team among the nation’s elite quartet has also been illustrated by the polls. Clemson finished first in the AP Poll in 2016 and 2018, second in 2015 and 2019, third in 2020 and fourth in 2017. Swinney became just the fourth coach to record at least six consecutive top four finishes since the AP Poll began in 1936, an exclusive list that also includes Florida State’s Bobby Bowden (13), USC’s Pete Carroll (seven) and Oklahoma’s Bud Wilkinson (six).
Clemson’s streak represented the fifth time a program has had a run of at least six top four finishes in the AP Poll. Miami (Fla.) had a seven-year run from 1986-92 with two different head coaches leading the program.
Swinney ranks second among coaches in both College Football Playoff appearances and College Football Playoff wins. Only seven head coaches have ever won a College Football Playoff game, and only five have won a College Football Playoff national championship.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney is perched atop ACC history in overall winning percentage with a mark of .805. He is the only coach in ACC history with a career winning percentage of .800 or better with a minimum of three ACC seasons.
Swinney also boasts a 99-19 record in ACC regular season games, a winning percentage of .839, ahead of College Football Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden’s previous conference record of .813. A win this week would make Swinney the second head coach in ACC history to win 100 career regular season games in conference play.
On a non-percentage basis, Swinney ranks second in ACC history in career victories leading an ACC program, joining Bobby Bowden as the only coaches to win 150 games as ACC coaches. Swinney also tied Bowden’s conference record for bowl wins as head coach of an ACC team.
With a conference title in 2022, Swinney caught College Football Hall of Famer Frank Howard in total conference championships. Howard led Clemson to eight conference titles, including two Southern Conference championships and six ACC crowns.
Swinney’s eight ACC titles are the second-most since the conference’s founding in 1953.
Since the conference’s founding in 1953, no program has won more regular season games in Atlantic Coast Conference play than Clemson. 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 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 finished the 2010s with 117 victories, tied for the third-most victories in a decade in major college football since the 1890s, trailing only Penn (124 in the 1890s) and Alabama (124 in the 2010s). With 31 wins from 2020-22, Clemson entered 2023 already ahead of its pace from last decade.
Clemson has appeared in the Top 25 of 181 of a possible 196 AP polls (92.3 percent) since 2011, tied for second-most in the nation.
This season, Clemson can become the 18th program in history to be ranked in 500 AP Polls all-time.
Clemson ranked in the Top 5 of 57 consecutive polls from 2017-21. 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 from 2017-21 concluded at 97, the third-longest streak in poll history.
Clemson has finished ranked in the AP Top 25 in each of the last 12 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 five teams to finish ranked in each of the last six seasons.
That streak includes a stretch of 11 consecutive years finishing in the AP Top 15, second only to Alabama’s 15-year streak. From 2015-20, Clemson recorded six consecutive AP Top 5 finishes, tied for the fifth-longest streak in AP Poll history.
Since 2015, Clemson is 28-8 (.778) against AP Top 25 teams, the best winning percentage in the ACC and second-best winning percentage in the country.
Clemson is also 13-7 (.650) against AP Top 10 opponents in that time frame, one of only five teams in college football to produce at least a dozen 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 63 wins against teams that finish .500 or better are second-most in the nation. Clemson’s .840 winning percentage against that group also ranks second.
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 12 years, the longest streak in FBS history.
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.
Clemson has won 67 of its last 72 games vs. ACC opponents, a time frame that includes 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 12 of its 13 ACC counterparts, with at least four games comprising 11 of those 12 streaks.
From 2017-20, Clemson won 28 consecutive games against ACC opponents, one shy of the conference record. Since losing two ACC games in the span of a month in 2021, Clemson responded by rattling off 12 consecutive wins in ACC play across the 2021-22 seasons, the second-longest active conference winning streak in the country.
Clemson enters 2023 in the midst of its fifth conference winning streak of 10 or more games since the ACC was founded in 1953.
Clemson has dominated its conference more than any other FBS program. Clemson’s .931 winning percentage against ACC competition since 2015, including postseason play, leads the nation.
As a counterpoint to conjecture that Clemson’s in-conference success is limited to its membership in the ACC, Clemson is 12-6 against the SEC since 2015, a winning percentage that would rank third among current SEC membership.
Included below is a sample of historically profound streaks presently being produced by Clemson:
– Has won 103 of its last 116 games overall dating to 2014.– Has won 67 of its last 72 games against ACC teams.– Has won 106 of its last 109 games when leading at halftime.– Is 127-3 since 2011 when leading after three quarters.– Is 75-5 when scoring first since 2015.– Has a 123-4 record when totaling more first downs than its opponent since 2011.– Has a 71-4 record when winning the turnover margin since 2011.– Is 76-2 when rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.– Is 58-0 when both passing and rushing for 200+ yards under Dabo Swinney.– Is 63-2 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.– Has won 37 consecutive games when not allowing a sack since 2011.– Is 61-3 when having a 100-yard rusher since 2011.– Has won 35 of its last 39 games away from home against ACC teams.– Has won 34 of its last 39 road games.– Has won 52 of its last 63 games away from home.– Has won 61 of its last 63 games at home, including an ACC-record 40 in a row from 2016-22.– Won 48 of its final 50 games against ACC Atlantic Division teams, including games against typical Atlantic division foes in a division-free season in 2020.– Won 23 of its final 25 games against the Coastal Division since 2015, including games against typical Coastal division foes in a division-free season in 2020.– Has won 30 of its last 32 games in September.– Has won 34 of its last 36 games in October.– Has won 21 of its last 24 games in November.– Has won 16 of its last 17 games in December.– Has won 29 of its last 37 games against top-25 teams since the start of the 2015 season. That includes a 28-8 mark against AP Top 25 teams.– Has won 106 of its last 107 games when holding teams under 23 points (dates to 2010).– Has won 35 of its last 43 one-possession games since 2011, the highest winning percentage in the country in one-score games in that span.
Across the 2016-22 seasons, Clemson recorded an ACC-record 40-game winning streak in games played at Memorial Stadium, breaking the conference record of 37 set by Florida State under Bobby Bowden from 1992-2001.
Clemson’s 40-game home winning streak in that span was one of only 15 home winning streaks of 35 games or more in FBS history.
Of the nine streaks of 40 or more consecutive home wins in FBS history, only four, including Clemson’s, were led by a single head coach.
Since the advent of the College Football Playoff prior to the start of the 2014 season, Clemson is 59-2 at home. Clemson’s .967 winning percentage at home in that time frame tied for the best in the country, matching Alabama’s 59-2 home record in the same span.
Clemson has won at least six home games in each of the last 12 seasons. Entering 2023, the next longest active streak of seasons with six or more home wins was three by Coastal Carolina.
Clemson has won 34 of its last 39 true road games dating to the start of the 2015 season. Expanded to include neutral-site games, Clemson is 47-10 in games away from home in that span.
Clemson’s .872 winning percentage in true road games is the second-best road winning percentage in the nation since 2015. Clemson’s 34 road wins in that span are also the most in the country.
On Jan. 9, Garrett Riley coached Cinderella TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. On Jan. 13, he was formally announced as Clemson’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for 2023.
“Garrett has an incredible track record,” Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. His body of work — including this past season when his ninth-ranked scoring offense helped TCU transform from a five-win team into a 13-win national championship game finalist in their coaching staff’s first season — speaks for itself. As I contemplated this change, Garrett was at the top of my list. I am thankful that he shared my belief in Clemson University and our football program, and I am thankful that he wants to be part of our tradition and family. He is a dynamic, young offensive coordinator who will bring a lot of excitement and explosiveness to the Clemson offense… I am excited to see what we can accomplish with the young quarterbacks and dynamic playmakers we have on our roster here at Clemson and hopefully light up the scoreboard at Death Valley in 2023.”
After two years as offensive coordinator of SMU’s prolific offenses from 2020-21, Riley arrived at TCU following a 2021 campaign in which the Horned Frogs finished 5-7 and produced the nation’s 65th-ranked scoring offense. In his lone season in Fort Worth, he transformed the unit into the nation’s ninth-ranked scoring offense at 38.8 points per game as the Horrned Frogs went 13-2 with a berth in the national championship game.
Riley’s tutelage led quarterback Max Duggan to a multitude of honors for his play in 2022, including the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback, a runner-up finish in Heisman Trophy voting, All-America honors from several selectors and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
All three offenses coordinated by Riley prior to his arrival at Clemson finished in the top 15 nationally in scoring offense. His units as coordinator at SMU and TCU from 2020-22 combined would rank third in the nation in points per game in that span.
Riley’s squads also ranked fifth in total touchdowns, sixth in offensive plays of 30-plus yards and 11th in yards per play in that time frame.
Despite a lot of returning experience at the outside receiver positions and at tight end, Clemson’s primary weapon in the passing game in 2022 was slot receiver Antonio Williams.
Despite not turning 18 until July and not enrolling in January like much of his recruiting class, Williams immediately turned teammates’ heads upon his arrival in the summer of 2022. Clemson coaches and players alike complimented his natural route-running and football instincts, and Clemson’s coaching staff has said that he is further along than Clemson legend and NFL Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow was at the same point in his collegiate career.
Williams caught 56 passes for 604 yards with four touchdowns in 690 offensive snaps over 14 games (10 starts), leading the Tigers in both receptions and receiving yards. His 10 starts were the most by a Clemson freshman receiver since Hunter Renfrow’s redshirt freshman season (10 in 2015) and the most by a true freshman receiver at Clemson since Sammy Watkins (10 in 2011). He recorded the first 50-catch season by a Clemson freshman since 2014 (76, Artavis Scott) and He joined DeAndre Hopkins (2010), Sammy Watkins (2011) and Scott (2014) as the only four Clemson freshmen since 2010 to catch 50 passes.
Linebacker Trenton Simpson’s impressive 2022 campaign led to semifinalist selections for the Butkus Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy, but the performance of one of his linebacker counterparts, then-sophomore Barrett Carter, thrust a new name into conversations about one of the college football’s emerging young linebackers.
Head Coach Dabo Swinney has routinely sung the praises of Carter’s versatility.
“He’s one of the best football players in my 20 years at Clemson,” Swinney said. “He’s a pure football player. I mean, the guy can play anywhere. He could go play tailback, he could play corner, he can play safety, he can play Nickel/Sam, he can play Mike, he can play Will. He’s special… He’s so smart and he’s got unbelievable instincts for the game.”
Close observers of Clemson in 2022 quickly recognized Carter’s impact in his first year as a starter, but Carter served notice of his arrival to the country with a signature performance against Louisville last November. In that game, Carter recorded eight tackles (3.5 for loss), two sacks, an interception and a pass breakup, becoming the first player to record 3.5 or more tackles for loss, 2.0 or more sacks and an interception in a game between two Power Five teams since South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram against Auburn in 2011.
Carter finished 2022 credited by the coaching staff with 77 tackles (10.5 for loss), tied for third-most on the team, with 5.5 sacks, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in a unit-high 832 snaps over 13 games (all starts). His 832 snaps were the sixth-most by a Clemson linebacker on record.
Carter was one of only three players in the Power Five with at least 10 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, multiple interceptions and multiple forced fumbles in 2022. Before Carter and two other Power Five players reached the marks in 2022, the last two Power Five players to reach Carter’s numbers in all four categories were both Butkus Award winners: Georgia’s Nakobe Dean (2021) and Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons (2019).
Will Shipley ranked second in the ACC and among the top 15 in the nation in rushing touchdowns in 2022. His consistency made him one of only six players nationally rush for a touchdown in at least 11 different games in 2022.
Shipley was also one of 11 FBS players (and one of six Power Five running backs) to rush for at least 11 touchdowns in each of 2021 and 2022 seasons, joining Air Force’s Brad Roberts, UAB’s DeWayne McBride, Eastern Michigan’s Samson Evans, Kent State’s Marquez Cooper, Louisville’s Malik Cunningham, Michigan’s Blake Corum, Syracuse’s Sean Tucker, Texas’ Bijan Robinson, UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet and Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen.
Shipley produced the 23rd 1,000-yard rushing season in school history in 2022, finishing the year seventh in single-season rushing touchdowns and 11th in single-season rushing yards in Clemson annals.
Shipley recorded multiple touchdowns on the ground in each of Clemson’s first three games. He became the first Clemson player in single-game records back to 1950 to score multiple rushing touchdowns in each of the first three games of a season.
Shipley is one of six Clemson players since 2000 to record at least seven career games with multiple rushing touchdowns.
At 124.9 yards per game, Shipley ranked second in the ACC and 24th in the country in all-purpose yardage per game in 2022. As a sophomore, Shipley ranked sixth in the nation in the category among underclassmen.
Shipley was named in 2022 as one of four finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, presented annually to the nation’s most versatile player. He was the only player in the country with at least 1,150 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and 300 kickoff return yards during that campaign. He joined his position coach, C.J. Spiller, as the only ACC players to reach those figures in a season since 2000, as Spiller accomplished the feat as a senior in 2009. It was only the 10th such season by a Power Five player the last 20 years.
With 1,748 all-purpose yards in 2022, Shipley ranked ninth in Clemson history in all-purpose yardage in a single season.
Shipley scored a rushing touchdown in seven straight games across the 2021-22 seasons and then rattled off another six-game streak late in 2022. He is responsible for two of the 12 longest streaks of games with a rushing touchdown in Clemson history.
Shipley’s streak of three consecutive games with multiple rushing touchdowns over the first three games of the 2022 season tied for Clemson’s third-longest since 2000.
Shipley enters 2023 with eight career games of 100 or more rushing yards, including three as a freshman in 2021 and five as a sophomore in 2022. Shipley ranks tied for 11th in 100-yard rushing games in school history.
In the 2022 Orange Bowl, Cade Klubnik completed 30-of-54 passes for 320 yards in the game and also rushed 20 times for 51 yards with a touchdown. His 74 plays of total offense (combined rush attempts and pass attempts) were the fifth-most by an individual in Clemson history.
Klubnik’s 320 yards were the fourth-most by a Clemson quarterback making his first career start since 1953, as he became only the fourth Clemson quarterback to exceed 300 passing yards in their first start.
Klubnik became the first Clemson freshman quarterback on record to make his starting debut in postseason play. He also became the first Clemson quarterback to make his first career start against an AP Top 6 opponent since his former offensive coordinator, Brandon Streeter, did so against No. 5 Florida State in 1997.
Klubnik became only the eighth true freshman to start at quarterback for Clemson since the NCAA instituted permanent freshman eligibility in 1972, joining Steve Fuller (1975), Willie Jordan (1975), Patrick Sapp (1992), Nealon Greene (1994), Deshaun Watson (2014), Trevor Lawrence (2018) and DJ Uiagalelei (2020).
Though Clemson fell to Tennessee in Klubnik’s debut start, Clemson quarterbacks are 9-3 in their first career starts since 2002. Clemson is 27-19-1 in debut starts for its quarterbacks since 1953.
Klubnik’s national breakout came in the 2022 ACC Championship Game against North Carolina. He entered the game on Clemson’s third possession and completed 20-of-24 passes for 279 yards and a passing touchdown and added seven carries for 30 yards and a rushing touchdown. His 83.3 completion percentage set an ACC Championship Game record and led to his selection as the game’s Most Valuable Player in Clemson’s 39-10 victory. He became the third freshman (and second true freshman) in the game’s history to earn the honor.
Then-true-freshman Cole Turner turned heads when he had three receptions for 101 yards in Clemson’s 2022 ACC Championship Game victory over North Carolina. It was the first 100-yard receiving game for a Clemson player in 2022.
Turner, whom Clemson’s coaches had opted to save for the stretch run of his redshirt season in 2022, had played just eight offensive snaps in one game all year before his performance against the Tar Heels. He recorded one catch for nine yards in those eight snaps against Miami (Fla.) two weeks earlier.
But, against the Tar Heels, the younger brother of former Clemson All-American Nolan Turner had a 68-yard reception to set up a score and had another catch for 29 yards. He reached the 100-yard mark with a four-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
With a 100-yard receiving performance in just his second career game, Turner tied a Clemson record for fewest games needed to record a 100-yard receiving game. Current Clemson graduate assistant Artavis Scott had 164 yards on six receptions against South Carolina State in his second game as a freshman in 2014, and Justyn Ross did it in his second game as a freshman in 2018 when he caught three passes for 103 yards.
Sammy Watkins reached the 100-yard barrier in his third game, a 10-catch, 155-yard performance against Auburn in 2011, and Derrick Hamilton did it in his fifth game, an eight-reception, 106-yard effort against NC State in 2001. Jim Lanzendoen, a junior college transfer, did it in his fifth game as a junior against Virginia in 1973.
Turner became the 66th different Clemson player ever to record a 100-yard receiving game.
As a true freshman in 2021, wide receiver Beaux Collins debuted a touchdown celebration in which he pointed to an invisible watch on his wrist. The message? “It’s Beaux Time.”
The clever play on the “It’s Bo Time” motto of fast food giant Bojangles was on display early this season, as Collins caught a touchdown pass in each of the Tigers’ first four games in 2022, becoming the first Clemson player to record a receiving touchdown in each of the first four games of a season since freshman phenom Sammy Watkins in 2011.
After being held out of the end zone for the first time in Clemson’s fifth game of the season, Collins scored his fifth touchdown of the season in Clemson’s sixth game of 2022, a prime-time win at Boston College. In doing so, Collins became the first Clemson player to catch a touchdown in five of the first six games of a season since 2012 when DeAndre Hopkins accomplished the feat as part of his ACC-record 18-touchdown campaign.
Since 2015, Clemson has produced a total of 27 All-ACC selections along the offensive line, including 11 first-team honors. Clemson’s 27 all-conference selections by offensive linemen are the second-most of any Power Five program, and its 11 first-team selections are tied with Washington for the fourth-most in that span.
Clemson’s success in its 60-9 run since 2018 has been powered in part at the line of scrimmage, where Clemson holds a 233-104 edge over opponents in sacks in that time frame. Clemson’s +129 margin in sacks since 2018 is the highest differential in the country.
For 12 seasons, NFL offenses attempted in vain to limit opportunities for four-time Pro Bowler Jeremiah “Axe Man” Trotter to trot out his signature axe chopping celebration after big stops. With the next generation of the Trotter middle linebacker bloodline — Jeremiah Trotter Jr. — now patrolling the box at Clemson, the college football world shared in their pain in 2022.
Jeremiah Jr., about whom both Head Coach Dabo Swinney and Defensive Coordinator Wes Goodwin joked “has been a middle linebacker since he was in diapers,” elevated his game in the second half of Clemson’s 2022 season. After producing 18 tackles (3.0 for loss) in Clemson’s first six games, the coaches credited Axe Man Jr. with 74 stops (10.5 for loss), including six games with nine or more tackles, in Clemson’s final eight contests, including with a team-high-tying nine tackles in the ACC Championship Game.
Though he was snubbed by conference media, Trotter collected second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, third-team All-America status from Pro Football Focus and collected All-ACC honors from select individual outlets.
In the 2002 regular season finale, Trotter recorded 2.0 sacks against South Carolina (in addition to scoring on a 35-yard interception return), and a week later, he set an ACC Championship Game record with 3.0 sacks against North Carolina. He became the first Clemson player with at least 2.0 sacks in consecutive games since former No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell early in the 2018 season. He joined a bevy of Clemson legends (and early round NFL Draft picks), nearly all of whom were primarily pass rushers rather than middle linebackers, to record multiple games in a season since 2000 with 2.0 or more sacks.
Clemson’s defensive line got a boost when defensive tackles Tyler Davis and Ruke Orhorhoro and defensive end Xavier Thomas all elected to return to Clemson for 2023 despite receiving draftable grades and feedback from NFL talent evaluators prior to the 2023 NFL Draft.
The returns of Davis (15.5 sacks from 2019-22) and Thomas (14.5 from 2018-22) made Clemson the only Power Five program to return multiple players with at least 14.0 sacks for 2023. The addition of Orhorhoro’s 7.0 sacks from 2019-22 give the Tigers 37.0 returning career sacks from a trio that was previously presumed NFL-bound.
Injury limited Thomas to only three games in 2022. After missing the first five games of the season, he returned to action at Boston College, where despite playing only six snaps, he earned ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week after posting two sacks, a forced fumble and an additional quarterback hit, collecting the Leather Helmet Award from the Boston College Gridiron Club as the game’s MVP.
Davis was a 2022 FWAA and Phil Steele All-American and is already a three-time All-ACC selection (2019, 2021 and 2022). Davis’ three career All-ACC selections are tied with Christian Wilkins (2016-18), Dexter Lawrence (2016-18) and William “Refrigerator” Perry (1982-84) for the most by a defensive tackle in Clemson history, company befitting a player nicknamed “Baby Dex” by Dabo Swinney and “Mini Fridge” by former teammate K.J. Henry.
Defensive end Justin Mascoll, a veteran of 53 career games, also returned for his sixth season.
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 30 in the country in total defense in each of the last nine seasons and has ranked among the Top 25 in scoring defense in each of those campaigns (including four Top 5 finishes in the category).
Clemson is one of only two programs in the country to produce a Top 15 defense in at least eight of previous nine 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 40 times since the start of the 2018 season, the most in the country.
Clemson is 106-1 in its last 107 games when holding opponents under 23 points, a timeframe that dates to the 2010 season. In the College Football Playoff era, Clemson has held opponents to 22 or fewer points in 89 games, the most in the nation. Clemson is 88-1 in those contests.
Clemson has held opponents to 2.0 or fewer yards per carry in 34 games in the College Football Playoff era (since 2014), the second-most in the country. Clemson is 32-2 in those contests.
No program has given up fewer points per possession against FBS opponents since 2018, as Clemson’s mark of 1.04 points allowed per possession to FBS opponents since the start of the 2018 season leads the nation.
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 finished first in the Power Five and second in the nation in tackles for loss in 2022.
Clemson notched its 40th sack of the 2022 season in the 2022 ACC Championship Game, reaching the 40-sack milestone every year of the CFP era. Clemson’s nine 40-sack seasons in that time are the most in the country.
Clemson has posted 60 multiple-sack games since 2018, the most in the FBS.
Clemson has finished in the Top 10 in third down defense in eight of the last 10 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.
In Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s tenure, the Tigers have routinely responded well following losses and following dips in the AP rankings.
Clemson is 31-7 in games following a loss under Swinney, including season openers following a loss in the previous season finale. Clemson will try to push that record to 32-7 with a win against Duke.
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, the longest active streak in the nation.
According to research assistance provided by Stats Perform, Clemson’s 154 games since losing back-to-back games in a single season is the nation’s longest active streak.
Under Swinney, Clemson is also 32-6 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.
Clemson has lost only 13 games since 2015. Six of Clemson’s 13 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 132-36, a winning percentage of .786. Clemson has not lost to a team that finished with a losing record since 2017 and has not lost to a team with a losing record at the time of the game since losing to 2-5 Boston College in 2010, Dabo Swinney’s second full season as head coach.
Since 2011, the Tigers have played 43 games with a final margin of eight points or less, and Clemson’s .814 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 scoring margin in that span.
Clemson has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 68 of its 69 games since the start of the 2018 season. The only team to hold Clemson without a rushing touchdown in that span was eventual national champion Georgia in 2021.
Clemson’s 68 games with a rushing touchdown in that span are the most in the nation. Clemson has scored multiple rushing touchdowns in 56 of those games, also the nation’s best.
Since 2015, Clemson has frequently won one of the hidden “games within the game” on each side of halftime. SportSource Analytics tracks the “Middle Eight,” the section of the game defined as the final four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. Clemson has outscored opponents in that time window 65 times since 2015, posting a 63-2 record in those contests.
After finishing -30 in that category in 2021, Clemson posted a +35 margin in 2022.
In four of the last six 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 ranked among the top 20 in the PowerFive in average players per game in 2022 but ranked fifth in the Power Five in total players played.
The approach to creating functional depth and rewarding players ready to play has been a key philosophy for Head Coach Dabo Swinney, whose own collegiate playing career was hatched as a walk-on fighting for playing time in Alabama’s receiving corps. “We’re fully committed to playing guys who deserve to play,” Swinney said. “You commit to a guy early in the season, and even if a guy has only played 10 percent of the snaps, when you get to game eight or nine, they’ve got some good experience.”
In the first year of new redshirt regulations in 2018, Clemson played a then-school-record 20 true freshmen. Clemson immediately shattered that record in its 2019 season opener, with 27 true freshmen making their collegiate debuts in that contest. An additional eight true freshmen made their debuts to push that 2019 total to a school-record 36.
In 2020, Clemson played 27 true freshmen, tied for the most in the country at the end of the regular season. Twenty-two first-year freshmen made their debut for Clemson in 2021, and 26 debuted for Clemson in 2022.
Coinciding with redshirt rule changes, Clemson’s five most recent seasons have resulted in the most game action for first-year freshmen since 1982.
In the 2021 season opener against Georgia, Clemson started two true freshmen in the first game of a season for the first time under Dabo Swinney. Safety Andrew Mukuba became the first Clemson true freshman to start at defensive back in records back to 1973, and guard Marcus Tate became only the third true freshman offensive lineman to start a season opener at Clemson since 1973, joining center James Farr (1980) and tackle Mitch Hyatt (2015).
In 2022, true freshman Blake Miller added himself to the list, joining Hyatt and Phill Prince (1944) as the only true freshmen offensive tackles since 1944 to start a season opener for the Tigers.
Clemson’s 84 400-yard games since 2015 are the third-most in the nation.
Clemson has fielded one of the nation’s most balanced offenses over the last five 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 58 games under Dabo Swinney, posting a perfect record in those contests. Clemson’s 24 such games since the start of the 2018 season are among the most in the country.
From 2018-22, Clemson was one of only three programs in the nation to both rush for at least 13,000 rushing yards and pass for at least 18,000 passing yards. Clemson was also the only program in the country to rush for 175+ rushing touchdowns (184) and throw 140+ passing touchdowns (144) in that span.
Clemson has put points on the board in 266 consecutive games since last being shut out in the 2003 season opener. It entered 2022 as one of 20 streaks in FBS history exceeding 250 games.
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.
In 2018, Clemson debuted a new version of its “This is Why We Work” fourth quarter video at Death Valley, a hype video imploring the team to finsh and featuring Director of Strength and Conditioning Joey Batson bellowing:
“Let me tell you something right now: they don’t put championship rings on smooth hands! You gotta go earn it! You gotta go earn it six seconds at a time! You win championships when the stadium is empty, when the band ain’t playing, when the cheerleaders ain’t cheering, when it’s just you and your brothers right beside you. That’s when you win championships! In the fourth quarter, that is when we shine!”
The video and the speech became a part of Clemson lore, buoyed by its playing during Clemson’s comeback win against Syracuse that year en route to a 15-0 national championship season. Over the years, the video has changed but the speech remains the same, with many Clemson fans yelling it in unison as it plays.
Clemson’s fixation on finishing has led to the Tigers owning the fourth quarter, with Clemson holding a 127-3 record since 2011 when leading after three quarters.
And though Head Coach Dabo Swinney frequently reiterates the phrase, “There is nothing less important than the score at halftime,” Clemson has the best winning percentage in the nation among Power Five teams since 2017 in games in which it leads at halftime.