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Courtesy: Steven Bradley, IPTAY Media
CLEMSON, SC (ClemsonTigers.com) - Clemson became the first non-Southeastern Conference team in college football history to defeat top-10 SEC opponents in consecutive games with its 38-35 win over Georgia on Saturday night.
But that factoid had little to do with what transpired on the field, according to Tiger head coach Dabo Swinney.
"We've got all the respect in the world for the SEC, but it's not about a league - it's about a program, bottom line" Swinney said. "We love being in the ACC and we're very proud of all that stuff, but we're worried about Clemson. And these guys don't feel like they take a backseat to anybody."
A back-and-forth affair throughout, the No. 8 Tigers opened up a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter on Stanton Seckinger's nine-yard touchdown catch from Tajh Boyd and hung on to defeat the No. 5 Bulldogs in the first season-opening meeting of top-10 teams in school history.
Clemson had defeated No. 7 LSU 25-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to end last season and set up its shot to make history against Georgia.
Seckinger's decisive score was fitting in that his jersey number is No. 81, and it came on the night Danny Ford, the legendary coach who led Clemson to its only national championship in 1981, was inducted into the Ring of Honor. It also came against the team that was arguably the Tigers' fiercest rival in that era.
Officials initially ruled that Seckinger had stepped out of bounds at the two, but replay clearly showed he had tight-roped the sideline and broken the plane.
Georgia pulled within three, 38-35, on a Murray one-yard run with 1:19 to play, but Clemson's Martavis Bryant - who had dropped a pair of key passes in the game - recovered the Bulldogs' last-ditch onside kick attempt to seal the victory.
At No. 5, Georgia is the third-highest-ranked foe Clemson has defeated in its history, and the Tigers snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs in the process.