No, Clemson won’t be playing in the College Football Playoff, but they are still going bowling.
The Tigers still have an outside shot at their seventh straight ACC championship game, but right now the only thing we know for certain is that they can still get to a decent bowl game.
This is not a position that many expected Clemson to be in but it is what it is. During discussions over this season one of the questions raised over and over again has been whether the Tigers should accept an invite to play in what some have referred to as “lower tier” bowls. This question has been accompanied by the normal reasons. Like, this team doesn’t deserve to go to a bowl (they absolutely do) or the team has too many injured players to think about a bowl.
The most recent projections by analysts like Brett McMurphy see Clemson ending up in San Diego’s Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 (8 p.m./FOX), Orlando’s Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29 (5:45 p.m./ESPN), or Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl on Dec. 31 (11 a.m./ESPN). If one of these ends up being the destination then it would mark the first time since the Russell Athletic Bowl, in 2014 (a 40-6 win over Oklahoma) that the Tigers were in a non-New Year’s Six bowl.
Many only notice the pageantry of whatever bowl game their team plays in and feel that it is an extension of their football season. An even more important thing that has to be thought about is any bowl invite allows the coaching staff to get in extra practice time.
This is always a good thing for a team filled with young players and is basically the equivalent of an extra spring practice. It gives coaches a little bit of a jumpstart on the following season. It also offers an additional outside chance for recruits to see how a team does in their bowl game.
It’s definitely been a season that many are ready to put behind us but it’s good to remember that, like head coach Dabo Swinney has pointed out, it’s not just about getting to the top but also about what you go through to get there. The “lower tier” bowls are a part of that journey. Whether it’s the Holiday Bowl, the Cheez-It Bowl, or the Gator Bowl.
Remember, the final goal for this Clemson program each and every season is “Win the Closer.”
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