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Clemson football fueled by disrespect ahead of playoff

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PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — You really have to hand it to the Clemson Tigers. They have somehow managed to become the most respected disrespected team in college football history.

The reigning national champions are favored by 2 1/2 points against Ohio State Saturday in the Fiesta Bowl. They have won 28 consecutive games and earned a fifth straight College Football Playoff invitation. They have been in the top five of the AP poll for 39 consecutive rankings.

Much respect.

The Tigers choose not to acknowledge it.

“We’ll take our ROY bus,” safety Tanner Muse said last week.

ROY is the Dabo Swinney acronym for Rest Of Y’all, the term he uses when discussing the perceived lack of homage directed toward the Tigers. Last year, the ROY bus referred to Alabama and the Rest Of Y’all. This year, Swinney “took the tarp off the ROY bus” in early October, after Clemson struggled to beat North Carolina and everyone started asking what’s wrong with the defending champs.

Since then it has been proven that nothing was wrong with Clemson, other than perhaps a little early-season boredom. After surviving the Tar Heels, the Tigers won their next eight games by 31 or more points, a powerful flex that still was a bit lost amid the freshness and dominance at LSU and Ohio State.

While the football world was transfixed by the offensive makeover at LSU and the successful takeover at Ohio State by Ryan Day, Clemson just kept chugging along with a similar cast of headliners from last season. There were some new faces on the defensive front, but otherwise it was pretty much the same guys doing the same things against the same overmatched Atlantic Coast Conference.

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