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Cheez-It Bowl Preview: Clemson gets a crack at win number 10 against Iowa State

By Brad Senkiw

Dabo Swinney loves competing for championships, but he is also a big fan of consistency.

The Clemson head coach doesn’t get a shot at the College Football Playoff this year. But the Tigers do have a chance to win their 10th game in 2021 to keep a streak of 11 consecutive years of reaching double-digit victories when they face Iowa State in the Cheez-it Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

“To start off 2-2 and just battle every single week, every week, figure it have an opportunity to go battle for a 10th win, especially from where we were to start out,” Swinney said, “it’s just a huge accomplishment and is a reflection of the character of our players.”

Clemson got the top non-CFP/New Year’s Six bowl spot available for the ACC, and it returns to play in the same game it beat Oklahoma in when it was called the Russell Athletic Bowl back in 2014.

“We’re super excited to be a part of the Cheez-It Bowl,” Swinney said. “Orlando is an incredible destination and an experience. Having been a part of experiences down there in the past, it’s just a place I know our guys will certainly enjoy.”

After a 2-2 start in September, which included a loss to Georgia, Clemson bounced back to win seven of the next eight games, finding its offensive identity with a strong run game and relying on its dominant defense. The Tigers will look to keep that going in the Cheez-it Bowl.

“We’re honored to be a part of it,” Swinney said. “It’s a great opportunity for our team to build momentum into next year, continue to improve and hopefully finish our season in a very positive way.”

The Tigers take on a Cyclones team at 5:45 p.m. on that Wednesday that went 7-5 in the regular season and finished fourth in the Big 12. Head coach Matt Campbell’s team is the third-highest scoring team in the Big 12 at 32.8 points per game, and it averages 437.4 yards per contest.

“To compete against a great and well-coached Iowa State team, certainly going to be a huge challenge there and I think a great matchup,” Swinney said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Campbell.”

The Cyclones defense is allowing 309.2 yards and 20.6 points per game. They beat Oklahoma State, one of the Big 12 title game representatives, and lost to conference champ Baylor 31-29 during the regular season. 

“All I know is that they’re a tough out,” Swinney said. “Simple as that. They’re an incredibly consistent program. They can beat anybody. They’re passionate about what they’re doing and you see that when you watch them play.”

The Tigers will begin bowl prep this week and dive deeper into the Cyclones’ personnel and scheme in hopes of getting win number 10 and winning their ninth bowl game of the Swinney era. 

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