2015: National Championship participants
After a season of redemption, Clemson football started out the 2015 season as favorites to win the Atlantic for the first time in a couple of seasons.
Dabo Swinney knew what talent he had, but still had to field a ton of questions about how the Tigers will manage a defense that had lost its entire starting defensive line.
The Tigers answered that question and several others in full, finishing the regular season 12-0 and winning the ACC Championship. Swinney kept the Clemson football team focused on the task at hand and they were able to come up with the most wins in a single Clemson football season.
This set up the Tigers’ first ever College Football Playoff appearance in school-history.
Just like the last few seasons, Clemson football was the underdog heading into their postseason slate. No national analyst picked Clemson to beat Oklahoma and most had the Sooners playing Alabama in the National Championship game.
Oh how they were wrong, yet again.
More from Rubbing the Rock
- Clemson Football: Q&A with Florida State experts at Chop Chat
- Clemson Tigers News: New commitments, Ian Schieffelin and Jonathan Weitz
- Clemson Football needs their biggest stars to shine against Florida State
- Clemson Football: Receiver by committee could work for the Tigers
- No reason for Clemson Football to fear a Seminole takeover
Clemson dominated the entire second half of the College Football Playoff game and came away with a 37-17 victory over the Sooners.
This set up the biggest game in Clemson football history since the 1982 Orange Bowl: A showdown with Swinney’s alma mater, the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Tigers and Crimson Tide gave us an instant classic. The two powers proved to easily be the best two teams in the country and they battled all game that faithful January night.
Unfortunately, big plays and special teams cost Clemson a National Championship as they came up just five points short. Alabama never moved the ball consistently against the Tigers and it took an onside kick to put them away, but you have to give the Crimson Tide credit: They did what they had to do to get the job done.
While this was a tough pill to swallow, the Clemson football program gained more respect in the loss than they did in their previous 14 victories.
Everyone now knows that the Tigers are here and to stay and the reason for that is the job that Coach Dabo Swinney has done.
Swinney has progressed so much over the past seasons and every year he has learned something to better the program. He has continued to recruit at a high level and has put an outstanding coaching staff around him.
There’s no doubt that the Clemson football program’s progress is a direct correlation of Dabo Swinney’s evolution as a Head Coach.
Who knows what else is in store for the Tigers program, but one thing is for sure: As long as Dabo Swinney is at the helm, Clemson will continue to improve because a program follows the pattern of its Head Coach.