Head coaches Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Josh Heupel of Tennessee held one more media session Thursday morning before their teams face one another Friday night in the Orange Bowl. An Orange Bowl win tomorrow night would be the cherry on top of a good season for the victor after coming up short of making the College Football Playoff.
Clemson was 7th in the final CFP ranking and is 11-2 and coming off a win over North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. Tennessee was 6th in the ranking. The Vols are 10-2 and whipped Vanderbilt in their last outing.
Both teams have gone through a quarterback change. Freshman Cade Klubnik replaced DJ Uiagalelei in the North Carolina game, led the Tigers to the win and was named the starter by Swinney in the postgame press conference. Uiagalelei ultimately transferred to Oregon State.
Hendon Hooker was having a Heisman type season for Tennessee when he suffered a torn ACL in the loss at South Carolina in week eleven. Joe Milton III, a former starter at Michigan, is now the starter. In the 56-0 win over Vanderbilt Milton was 11-21 for 147 yards and a touchdown. For the season Milton has passed for 720 yards with 7 touchdowns without throwing an interception.
One personnel note from Swinney…staring cornerback Sheridan Jones is dealing with a hip flexor and might not be able to play tomorrow night.
Tennessee leads the all-time series with the Tigers 11-6-2. They last met in Atlanta in 2003 with Clemson winning 27-14. The Tigers are favored by 4.5 points.