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When the 2011 season began, there weren't too many people picking Clemson for a BCS bowl, much less the BCS National Championship Game.
How times have changed!
Rather than the ACC being a two-team race between Florida State and Virginia Tech, it now appears that Clemson is everyone's pick to win the conference and earn the automatic BCS bid. Perhaps the only question now is to which BCS game will the Tigers be invited.
After Tommy Bowden resigned in the midst of the 2008 season, Dabo Swinney stepped in and has posted a 27-15 record since, which includes a 17-8 ACC mark and the 2009 ACC-Atlantic Division title.
After last year's disappointing 6-7 finish, Clemson wasn't garnering much preseason attention, even in its own part of the country. Much of the media buzz surrounded defending SEC-East champs South Carolina and ACC-favorite Florida State.
However, after guiding his team to an 8-0 start—the program's best since 2000—Swinney's Tigers are the darlings of the south Atlantic region. Continued winning could also make Clemson the darlings of the BCS, especially with three wins over ranked teams already to its credit, with the regular-season finale against South Carolina looming.
If the Tigers benefit from another week or two of BCS shake-ups and can continue their winning ways, don't be surprised if Clemson is right in the midst of national championship talk.