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Dabo Swinney: Clemson closing in on elite

By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says his team has closed the gap on the game's elite and is excited about the chance to go even further next season.

The Tigers (11-2), ranked 11th in the final poll, finished with their most victories since going 12-0 and winning the national championship in 1981. Swinney said Friday his players took a giant step forward with their last-second, 25-24 win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Swinney told his players coming in to that contest, "You can't win the national championship until you win games like this."

He acknowledges there's a long way to go before that point in 2013, but believes the Tigers' performance the past few seasons has earned them the right to rank alongside the best programs.

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