College Football Preview: UNC at Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Clemson is honoring a very special group in the middle of what it hopes turns into an equally special season.
The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their 1981 national champions today against North Carolina (5-2, 1-2) as they continue trying to reach the same heights they did three decades ago.
“As I keep saying each week, seven wins is not what we came here for,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “7-5 is not a great season.”
Morris and the Tigers are seeking more, much more.
A win over the Tar Heels would match Clemson’s best start since 2000 and be just its second 8-0 mark since those ’81 Tigers went on to a 12-0 season, capped with a surprise 22-15 victory over Nebraska at the Orange Bowl to win the championship that’s still the benchmark for Clemson football.
Coach Dabo Swinney said he expects some members from that title-winning squad to speak to their 2011 counterparts on Friday night before a halftime ceremony the next day.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years. That’s a special time,” Swinney said.
Swinney was 11 when the Tigers of Perry Tuttle, Terry Kinard and William “Refrigerator” Perry had their perfect season. But Swinney was a receiver on Alabama’s 1992 national champions and revels in those memories when he can.
Right now, the Tigers are busy making new memories.
North Carolina’s defense is third in the ACC this season in points allowed at 20.1 a game. Coach Everett Withers says the Tar Heels can’t focus too much on shutting down any one of Clemson’s playmakers because that will leave holes for the others to take advantage of.