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Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium
Memorial Stadium opened in 1942 under the watchful eye of nearby Woodland Cemetery. In 1948, the coach of Presbyterian College lamented to sportswriters that he had to "take his team up to Clemson and play in Death Valley." The nickname stuck, probably helped by the fact that the Tigers went 11-0 that season, outscoring opponents 274-76. Built to seat some 20,000 fans, Memorial Stadium now accommodates more than 80,000.
Death Valley is home to one of the great entrances in college football. Before every game, Clemson players gather around what's known as Howard's Rock, a piece of white flint from Death Valley, California, given in the 1960s to then–head coach Frank Howard by a friend. After rubbing the rock for good luck, the players take off running down "The Hill" while the band plays "Tiger Rag." Clemson fans call the tradition "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football."
Clemson Tigers Football History
In 2015, under head coach Dabo Swinney, a good football program turned the corner and became a great one, fashioning itself into a legitimate rival to Alabama's dynasty. The Tigers appeared in the national championship games for the 2015, 2016 and 2018 seasons. They faced the Crimson Tide each time and won in 2016 and 2018. That latter game was a 44-16 rout, the largest margin of defeat for Alabama under coach Nick Saban. Clemson finished the season with a 15-0 record, the first undefeated team in the College Football Playoff era to take home the title.
A founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson has 18 ACC titles in all as of the start of the 2019 season, the most of any member. The Tigers scored their first national championship in 1981, under 33-year-old head coach Danny Ford. Clemson was led that year by a stout defense that included safety Terry Kinard and freshman defensive tackle and future folk icon William Perry, better known as "The Refrigerator." After an 11-0 regular season, the Tigers beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, 22-15, to become a consensus national champion.