Clemson is playing for something never done in college football history: 15-0.
Granted, teams play more games now than ever before, but the significance of being the first to 15 isn’t lost on the Tigers. There’s been five teams in the last 15 years to go 14-0, two others that went 14-1 (including national champion Ohio State last season), but the Tigers have a shot at going to a place that no FBS team has gone before.
“We had said before the season started that we wanted to be the best ever and we wanted to go 15-0,” Clemson standout defensive end Shaq Lawson said. “So that was our goal before the season even started, and we’ve got a chance of reaching our goal.”
Yes, the Tigers will give the requisite “one game at a time” cliche going into Thursday’s College Football Playoff semifinal against Oklahoma. But Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson won’t even try to deny that the Tigers know the significance of the record that will be theirs if they win the national title.
“Of course,” Watson said. “We want to be the best ever. There’s never been a 15-0 team in college football. But first we’ve got to get past this one and continue our journey.”
Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon finally faced the media Tuesday.
He wasn’t talking about an assault case that led to him being suspended for the entire 2014 season.
Mixon attended Orange Bowl media day with the rest of his coaches and teammates, after being off-limits to such scrutiny all year.
He was flanked by Oklahoma’s chief media official, Mike Houck, who made sure Mixon never responded to questions about the legal case, which stemmed from allegations that he punched a woman in the face.
Mixon entered an Alford plea to the misdemeanor charge, performed 100 hours of community service and underwent counseling.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops acknowledged that Mixon was under strict orders not to discuss the case.
The running back followed those instructions, repeatedly turning down any questions on the subject — even when surrounded by more than a dozen reporters.
“I told you I’m not going to answer that,” Mixon said at one point. “You keep asking, but I already told you that’s not happening.”
Toward the end of the hour-long session, Mixon repeatedly looked around and tugged at his jersey, like he was ready to go.
He insisted that it wasn’t a burden, however.
“I’ve definitely been at the low,” he said. “But I’m at a high point in my life.”
Eric Mac Lain’s long red beard created a buzz at Orange Bowl media day.
The 315-pound Clemson guard has been growing the beard all season, and it’s now several inches long and — according to Mac Lain — the fullest facial hair in Thursday’s game.
What kind of look is he going for?
“Just the whole caveman, yeti, Grizzly Adams-type deal,” Mac Lain said. “It has paid off well with the attention of the media. Everyone loves beard questions. It has been a good little brand for me”
Mac Lain said his girlfriend hates the beard.
“She can’t wait until I cut it,” he said. “Luckily she lives in Greenville (S.C.). She’s doing grad school there, so she doesn’t have to see me every single day.”
Mac Lain plans to shave off the beard Jan. 12 — the day after the national championship game.
Jon Reschke figures he had no option growing up other than being a Michigan State fan, through the good and the bad years. His dad was a walk-on offensive tackle for the Spartans in the 1970s.
“Sometimes it was hard,” Reschke said.
Reschke is now a starting sophomore linebacker for the No. 3 Spartans, who play No. 2 Alabama in a national semifinal game at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
He said he likely won’t even understand the significance of the Spartans’ success until looking back many years from now. He said that is because they are doing what they should be doing — winning football games and championships.
“I’m blessed to be at Michigan State at this time, because we’re winning,” Reschke said. “It’s awesome.”
The Ryan family tends to do fairly well in Sun Life Stadium.
Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills won here already once this season, beating the Miami Dolphins. Seth Ryan — a wide receiver for Clemson — also plays for a team that has won here in 2015, with the Tigers rolling past the Miami Hurricanes.
And now Seth Ryan is back, with the Tigers set to play in Miami Gardens again on Thursday night when they meet Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinals. He’s hoping the family run of South Florida success keeps going.
“We’ve had a pretty good career here,” Seth Ryan said. “Hopefully on Thursday we’ll add to it.”
It can’t be easy for Seth Ryan, given that his family business is football — grandson of legendary coach Buddy Ryan, son of Rex Ryan and nephew of longtime NFL defensive coach Rob Ryan.
He shrugs off the attention that comes with having the name on the back of his jersey.
“I’ve grown up with it my whole life and seen how my dad succeeded while doing the same thing,” Seth Ryan said. “So I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to do it as well. I’ve always felt that coming from such a great family in football that I should be a supreme athlete,” Seth Ryan said. “But I just want my team to win. That’s what matters most.”
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