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At the beginning of the 2019 season, ESPN ranked what they believed to be the top teams in the first 150 years of college football. Clemson's 2018 squad made quite an impression with the No. 5 ranking.
The Tigers domination of defending national champion Alabama 44-16 in the College Football Playoff championship game was a key to CU's high ranking.
Additional bullet points were gained by the Tigers winning its last 10 games by at least 20 points. The offense excelled with 526 yards per game, and the Tigers' defensive unit held eight teams to 10 points or fewer. Clemson gave up a mere 13 points per game to lead all of FBS.
Since the Atlantic Coast Conference first kicked off in 1953, Clemson has been a dominant force with numerous ACC championship seasons. Head coaches such as Frank Howard, Charley Pell, Danny Ford, Ken Hatfield and Dabo Sweeney have put their championship mark on the Tigers program.
Clemson football fans had plenty to cheer about in 2016 when Dabo Swinney’s squad wrapped up a 14-1 season with a College Football Playoff Championship win over Alabama. The Tigers had defeated Ohio State 31-0 to advance to the title game and then put together an incredible performance against the Crimson Tide to take home the trophy. Let’s take a look back at what made this season so special for Clemson fans.
Clemson’s offense was second-to-none during the 2016 campaign, thanks largely to Deshaun Watson who passed for 4,593 yards and 41 TDs. Watson finished second in the Heisman voting behind Louisville’s Lamar Jackson but still managed to earn ACC Player of the Year honors. On the ground, Wayne Gallman rushed for 1,133 yards and 17 TD's while Mike Williams led CU receivers with 1,361 yards and 11 scores.
Lone Blemish on Season
The only blemish on Clemson's record that year came when they dropped a 42-43 decision to Pitt on Nov 12th. Despite that loss however, it was clear that this team had championship aspirations as they rolled through the remainder of their schedule with ease. Even more impressive is that this was Dabo Swinney's eighth full season as head coach - his first national championship coming only eight years after taking over as head coach.
The Tigers first national championship season was engineered by Head Coach Danny Ford in 1981. Clemson posted a 12-0 season and were voted No. 1 in the AP and UPI polls following their 22-15 Orange Bowl victory over No. 4 Nebraska.
Led by Head Coach Danny Ford, who was named the AFCA and FWAA National Coach of the Year, Clemson's success was buoyed by first-team All-ACC quarterback Homer Jordan, national champion linebacker Jeff Davis, unanimous All-American defensive back Terry Kinard and first-team All-American wide receiver Perry Tuttle. Clemson finished the decade as the fifth winningest Division 1 college football team of the decade with an incredible 86-25-4 record. Clemson's 1981 season is remembered as one of its most iconic and successful to date.
Following nearly four decades without championship success, Clemson regained its national swagger when Dabo Swinney took over the head coaching reins during the 2008 season. Swinney built the Tigers into an ACC power as the Tigers began to regain the national spotlight. Clemson advanced to the College Football Playoffs title game against Alabama following the 2015 season.
The Tigers fell to Alabama, but continued their momentum by earning national championships in 2016 and 2018. Both of Coach Swinney's national championships were culminated with victories over Alabama. The 2016 season was completed with a 35-31 win over the Crimson Tide. Two seasons later, Clemson dominated Alabama in the 2018 title game by a score of 44 to 16.
|Clemson National Championship Seasons|
|1981||12-0||Danny Ford||AP, UPI/Coaches Poll|
Along with the 1981 national championship, Clemson has been a leader in earning ACC Football Championships. After the league was created in 1953, Clemson gained their first conference title in 1956. The Tigers have also won or tied for conference football titles three years in a row multiple times.
|Clemson ACC Championship Seasons|
|1956, 1958, 1959, 1965*, 1966, 1967, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022|
Q: How Many National Titles has Clemson won
Q What coaches have led Clemson to a National Title
A. Dabo Swinney in 2016 and 2018. Danny Ford in 1981
Q. Who were the starting QBs for Clemson's National Championship seasons
A. Trevor Lawrence (2018), Deshaun Watson (2016), Homer Jordan (1981)
Q. What teams did Clemson beat to win their National Championships
A. Alabama (2018), Alabama (2016) and Nebraska in 1981 to push the Tigers to the top of the AP and UPI polls.