Clemson University

Clemson concerned with national title, not awards

Clemson begins preparations for Ohio State, Fiesta Bowl

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney looks ahead to the Tigers' College Football Playoff game against Ohio State.
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Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney looks ahead to the Tigers' College Football Playoff game against Ohio State.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t win the Heisman Trophy, and the Tigers had no first-team AP All-Americans, despite being ranked No. 2 entering the College Football Playoffs.

The Tigers are concerned with winning a national championship trophy.

“That stuff’s so subjective, but the trophy that they give you at the end of the season after the last game is played, there ain’t no vote on that one,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “That one’s earned. No one has a say on that one except for the guys on the field.”

Swinney made it apparent he believed Watson should’ve won the Heisman by a large margin. Instead, he finished as the runner-up to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. It marked the second consecutive year Watson was invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony, only to watch someone else win.

“It is what it is. Y’all know how I feel,” Swinney said. “I think he’s the best player hands down, but that doesn’t take anything away from those other guys. … He just wants to win.”

Watson was exceptional near the end of the season, totaling 14 touchdowns in his final three games while leading the Tigers to the ACC title.

Jackson and Louisville lost their final two games, but Watson was unable to catch him in the voting. Watson was likely hurt by 16 percent of the votes being cast prior to the ACC Championship Game.

“There’s a lot of people that get a vote, and a lot of people vote before the season’s even over. They just go ahead and vote,” Swinney said.

Watson is hoping to stay hot in the Fiesta Bowl and potentially the national title game. He played well down the stretch last season as Clemson gave Alabama all it wanted in the championship game in Phoenix.

The Tigers will need Watson to do so again to upset Ohio State and likely Alabama, and deliver Clemson its first national title since 1981.

“That’s the trophy that I promise you Deshaun wants more than any trophy that anybody can give him for an award is that team trophy that you hold up when the last second ticks off the clock in the last game,” Swinney said. “That’s the one that we all want.”

Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware, a senior leader on the team, echoed his coach’s comments.

“The biggest award is winning the natty. (Deshaun) realizes that. The rest of our team realizes that,” he said. “Those other awards are very gratifying, but we’re all focused on the big one.”

Fiesta Bowl

Who: Clemson (12-1) vs. Ohio State (11-1)

When: 7 p.m., Dec. 31

Where: Gendale, Ariz.


Line: OSU by 3 1/2

What’s at stake: a spot in the national championship game against the winner of Alabama and Washington in the Peach Bowl.