CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney got a text
message Monday from Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Malzahn suggested Clemson should spot Auburn seven points as
repayment for helping Swinney find Clemson's new offensive
coordinator, Chad Morris from Tulsa.
"I think a 17-game winning streak and our debacle last year kind of trumps that deal," Swinney said, referring to Auburn's win streak, which included last season's 27-24 overtime win over Clemson.
The offenses should look quite similar Saturday as Clemson (2-0)
takes on No. 21 Auburn (2-0). After all, Swinney, then a new
coordinator for Clemson, sought out Malzahn to learn about his
cutting edge hurry-up, no-huddle high school offense worked.
Swinney soaked in the advice, and a tight bond formed. So when Morris listed Malzahn as a reference on his resume, Swinney didn't hesitate to call his friend.
He hired Morris, and Clemson scored 43 and 35 points in its first two games after failing to score more than 31 points in any of its final 11 games of 2010.
Auburn will carry the nation's longest winning streak into Saturday's game. Seven of those 17 victories have come by four points or less.
Swinney said Auburn reminds him of the national title Alabama team he played for, which tallied 28 straight triumphs from 1991-93.
"People say a lot about this Auburn team, but I would say they find a way to win," Swinney said. "That's what winning does. When you win games consecutively like that, a belief comes about, a swagger, where you believe you're going to make a play. That's a tough nut to crack."
There are conflicting perspectives on whether that nut should be
any tougher in light of these Tigers' last meeting. In the third game last year, Clemson led 17-0 late in the second quarter before Auburn rallied for a 27-24 overtime victory and proceeded to go unbeaten for the national championship.
"It was very disappointing, but at the same time it was bittersweet because we know we can play with anybody in the country," junior center Dalton Freeman said. "We just have to finish."
Improving the toughness of the offense has been a story line at
Clemson through two games. Yet Auburn coach Gene Chizik reminded his local media members Tuesday that Clemson was arguably the most physical team they faced on their title run.
Furthermore, Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele promised
to break out an "old-school" approach this week to rectify the
missed tackles -- 16, by his count -- that enabled Wofford to keep
last Saturday's 35-27 Clemson victory a one-possession affair
So which Tigers best cultivate the physical underdog mentality
figures to be a key factor come Saturday.
"It's an opportunity for momentum," Swinney said. "If you look at my first year, that win at Miami was big and created momentum for us. I really believe that win created that belief and momentum for our team. It's a great chance to create some momentum going into the conference season."