Ohio State handed Clemson its worst loss since 2014 in Friday night's Sugar Bowl national semifinal with a 49-28 victory over the Tigers to advance to next Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship. But despite his team's 21-point margin of defeat, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney stayed firm after the loss on his decision to rank the Buckeyes No. 11 in his final Coaches Poll top 25 ballot.
"No, I don't regret any of that," Swinney said. "Polls have nothing to do with motivation. Both teams were highly motivated to play. Listen, they're a great team. That had nothing to do with Ohio State. I said they were good enough to beat us and good enough to win the whole dang thing. I didn't think anybody that didn't play at least nine games, in my poll, I wasn't going to put them in the top ten. I wasn't going to change that just because there was a chance we could play them. I don't have any regret about that. The only thing I regret is obviously I didn't do a good enough job of getting my team ready. But I don't regret anything about that at all."
Swinney's perceived slight of Ohio State, combined with the Tigers' close victory over Ohio State in a CFP semifinal game last season, added to the intrigue entering this year's showdown. But Swinney had nothing but positive things to say about the Buckeyes after Friday's loss, even though he held firm on his decision to low-ball the Buckeyes in his final poll.
"The credit goes to Ohio State," Swinney said. "They just absolutely dominated the game. You've got to give them credit for that. They were the better team, and they earned it. Very disappointed, certainly, in how we performed. Not what any of us expected. But, again, congratulations to Ohio State."
Ohio State's victory over Clemson was actually the Buckeyes' first win over the Tigers in program history, though it was just their fifth-ever meeting. Clemson had knocked off Ohio State three straight times under Swinney before Friday night.
"We had a tough game with them last year, have beaten them three in a row," Swinney said. "They got this one and all you can do is give them credit. They earned it. They just went out and played an unbelievable game."