CLEMSON, SC (WIS) - Clemson's national title defense is off to a good start as they steamrolled Kent State in the season opener. On Saturday, they'll face a much tougher test when they host the Auburn Tigers.
Clemson created early momentum with lights-out performance in its opening act.
"Confidence from that. Got a lot of guys their first experience. Something they can build on this week," head coach Dabo Swinney said.
"Does give us some confidence going forward," Junior tight end Milan Richard said. "This week we really have to be on our P's and Q's because we're playing a great team."
The new cast of stars on offense torched Kent State. In fact, the Tigers set a program record for total offense in a season opener. Now comes the first heavy hitter on the schedule - the Auburn Tigers.
"We like playing these type of games, this is where you see where you are," Swinney said.
Certain games on a schedule simply mean more. And anytime Dabo Swinney matches up against Auburn, it's special.
"When you're in this business you always got memories and things like that. This is one of them. Competing against Auburn for a long time. A lot of familiarities," Swinney said. "Love competing against those guys. Look forward to it this weekend."
Dabo's passion to silence the "WAR EAGLE" chant started early in life. He rolled with the Tide as a young boy growing up in Alabama.
Dabo's faced his childhood rival four times as the head coach at Clemson, leading the Tigers to victory in each of the past three meetings. So, he knows his team must be on point and ready to battle a good program.
"Looking at last year it was a very competitive game," Swinney said. "I expect the same this year."
Swinney isn't the only Tiger who voiced their excitement in facing the no. 13-ranked Plainsmen.
"A lot of people on offense and defense have been dreaming about since we were young kids. High-level. Top program. Prime time television on TV. Everyone is tuned in," linebacker Dorian O'Daniel said.
It is a setting Clemson starting quarterback Kelly Bryant has never played in. Even without big game experience, the Tigers in the huddle believe Bryant can lead the charge in a tight ball game.
"Just as much confidence in Kelly as I had in Deshaun. Just as much confidence in all our guys to get the job done," Richard said. "Again, we practice with them every day. We see things you guys don't see. Honestly, I have confidence no matter who is under center."
It's Bryant's opportunity to tame the Tigers - and his pack is ready to roar with him. Game time Saturday set for 7 p.m.