Note: The following appears in the Pittsburgh gameday football program.
In the most unusual college football season in Clemson’s 125 years sponsoring the sport, we have the most unusual “Senior Day.” While 16 Tiger student-athletes are listed as seniors entering today’s game with Pittsburgh, technically all of them are eligible to return next year.
Obviously, all of them cannot return, at least the way the scholarship limitations stand, but I am sure some will return. So, we have a group of seniors entering today’s final home game not really sure if this will be the last time they run down the Hill in Death Valley.
That will take the edge off to some extent, but we are sure there will be some tears shed by players and their relatives during pregame.
There is much to celebrate and still much to accomplish today and during the course of the rest of the season. It is a bit ironic in that Clemson has the opportunity to reach some landmark accomplishments against the last team to defeat the Tigers in Memorial Stadium. In 2016, Pittsburgh upset Clemson 43-42 on a 48-yard field goal with just six seconds left in the game.
First, this senior class can reach 50 wins this season and can become just the fourth Clemson class to win 50+ games. The 2018 and 2019 senior classes each finished with a 55-4 record, tied with Alabama’s senior class of 2018 as the winningest classes in the history of college football. If you do the math of possible remaining games, this group can get to 54 victories. We might look back at this season saying it took a pandemic to stop them from the record.
Clemson has a three-game lead over Alabama’s seniors when it comes to the most wins by a 2020 senior class. Alabama’s seniors are 45-4.
When it comes to conference championships, this current senior group already has three in the bank. Oklahoma and Ohio State are two other Power Five Conference schools with three league titles in a row entering this year.
This group of seniors is 26-0 at home. A win today would make it the first Tiger senior class to post a perfect record at home. It would give the group 27 wins, which would tie that overall victory record. Again, the pandemic reduced Clemson’s home game total from seven to six this year. Overall, Clemson has won 27 straight games at home dating to that loss to Pittsburgh.
When it comes to ACC regular-season wins, this class is 29-2, one behind the record for conference regular-season wins by a Tiger senior class. In this case, the pandemic helps this class in its attempt to set the record. The pandemic increased the number of league games from eight to 10 in 2020. A win today would tie the record of 30 league regular-season wins by the seniors of 2018 and 2019.
When it comes to rankings in the top five in the nation, the current Clemson seniors have a school-record 51 consecutive weeks. Clemson has been ranked in the top five of every poll since Nov. 5, 2017. Clemson’s current top-five streak is the third longest in the history of the AP poll. Alabama has that record with a 68-poll streak from 2015-19, and Miami (Fla.) had a 55-poll streak from 2000-03.
That mark might document the level of consistent excellence under Head Coach Dabo Swinney more than any other. Clemson’s streak of consecutive polls in the top 10 stands at 87, tied for the longest active streak with Alabama.
One individual record that could be tied today is wins by a Clemson starting quarterback. Trevor Lawrence, a junior in eligibility who may be playing his final game in Memorial Stadium, has a 31-1 career record as a starting signal-caller. Lawrence’s only loss as Clemson starting quarterback came against top-ranked Louisiana State in the national championship game last season. Lawrence can tie Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson with 32 career victories today.
This will also be the last home game for Travis Etienne, who has had a remarkable career. He will leave Clemson as the ACC’s career leader in rushing yards, total touchdowns and rushing touchdowns, and Clemson’s career leader in 100-yard rushing games and yards per carry (min. 2,000 yards).