Clemson Football: What Second Place or Worse Would Mean for the Tigers in 2012

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Clemson Football: What Second Place or Worse Would Mean for the Tigers in 2012
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
With Clemson entering 2012 hoping to wipe away the memories of their crushing defeat in the Orange Bowl, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have several key starters in place to make a run at a second consecutive ACC title.

Heading into the 2012 season with several key returning players that orchestrated last season’s run to a BCS bowl—like quarterback Tajh Boyd and All-American wide receiver Sammy Watkins—the Tigers are expected to be in the mix to defend their ACC crown. 

Despite the way their season ended—with a brutal 70-33 loss in the Orange Bowl at the hands of West Virginia—the 2011 season will be remembered as a success for Clemson’s football program.

Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to their first ACC title in two decades, and in the process, he has re-established Clemson as one of the league’s premier gridiron powerhouses along with Virginia Tech and Florida State—two teams they defeated (they beat the Hokies twice) in 2011. 

For a program that had been largely dormant, and known more for their recent history of late season collapses, the upcoming season represents a chance for Swinney’s club to prove that the culture in Clemson has indeed changed. 

However, what would a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division mean for the program going forward?

Here are four things finishing second or worse in the ACC this season would mean for Clemson.

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