In 2008, Clemson was one of dozens of college football teams aspiring to great things. That year, Dabo Swinney became head coach and it wasn't long before the Tigers made good on their ambitions, becoming regulars at the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Tigers claimed championships in 2018 and 2016 in the Dabo era, giving them three championships, with their first dating back to 1981.
Long before, though, the small college town in the South Carolina Upstate had garnered a reputation for great fans and great football fun. And that hasn't changed. Whether you're hoping for a coveted seat in the fabled "Death Valley" or simply seeking a fall weekend in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, Clemson is the place to go.
How to enjoy a Tigers weekend, inside or outside the stadium:
Getting Tickets - Surprisingly, many home games are not sold out, according to Clemson official Tim Match. Call (800) CLEMSON or visit the athletics department website. If your game choice is sold out, visit school partner StubHub.
Where to eat before the game - The Esso Club has been a Clemson institution since 1933. Other delicious choices include Blue Heron, Sardi's Den and Rick Erwin's.
Where to celebrate after the game - Again, hard to go wrong with the Esso Club, one of the top sports bars in the country. Blue Heron and TAPS Bar & Cafe in The Abernathy Hotel also are favorites with Tiger fans.
Where to buy Clemson gear - The official school souvenir store is The Athletic Department on Route 123. Another popular outlet is the Tiger Sports Shop in downtown Clemson.
Where to tailgate with Tigers fans - Many neighborhoods near the stadium offer private parking areas. Bring your own food and beverages and count on being welcomed by the tailgate veterans. Or do your own thing near The Lawn at Littlejohn Coliseum, home to the Tiger Tailgate Show area.
Where to purchase your tailgate fare - Sardi's for ribs and peel-and-eat shrimp, the Smokin' Pig for barbecue.
Best Clemson game day rituals - Legendary college football television anchor Brent Musburger once declared the Tigers' Run Down the Hill into Memorial Stadium as the "most exciting 25 seconds in college football." After disembarking from three buses at the top of The Hill, the players charge into the stadium as the band plays the "Tiger Rag" fight song. Postgame, Clemson fans join the team on the field to sing the school alma mater.
What they're singing or dancing to - Tiger Rag, played when the team enters the stadium and after the home team scores, is the gold standard, along with the Clemson alma mater.