SOLID ORANGE?

Aaron Brenner outlines the four ways Clemson could be knocked out of BCS bowl contention, explaining why the Tigers still seem a safe bet to end up in Miami on his Tiger Tracks blog.

CLEMSON — It’s a good thing the prevailing theory is Clemson will survive a second distressing loss and still meander its way into a BCS bowl berth.

Swinney was asked on his teleconference Sunday — the only time he’ll be made available to media this week while he’s on the recruiting trail — for his preference when it comes time for bowl selection. Would he prefer being an underdog in a BCS bowl against an elite opponent like defending national champion Alabama, or is a lesser assignment like the Chick-fil-A Bowl with a better chance at victory appealing? Or does he not look at it that way?

Swinney probably had the best answer his players could hope for.

He laughed, almost in disbelief.

“We absolutely want to be in the BCS. That’s a no-brainer. That’s not even a question,” Swinney said. “We’re still one of the best teams in the country. That’s a fact. We’ve been one of the most consistent teams in the country. I wish we could win them all, but there’s only a couple undefeated teams.”

It’s not a perfect science, but generally, it’s easier to win bowls in December than January.

ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, Phil Steele and SBNation all project No. 13 Clemson not only to play in its second Orange Bowl in three years, but to have head coach Dabo Swinney’s alma mater, No. 4 Alabama, as the foe, making the Tigers a significant underdog.

Quite different than, say, Clemson vs. Texas A&M in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve, where Tajh Boyd would be expected to beat Johnny Football. Clemson beat LSU in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“We want the very best postseason we can get,” Swinney said, emphatically. “Listen, the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s great, I’ve had no problem with that. I think we should be in the BCS. We were in the top 10 for 14 weeks this year, which is a school record. We’re just outside of the top 10 now. Our losses have been to two really good teams. I think we’re a team that’s exciting to watch, and a team that can play with anybody in the country.

“We’d love to be in the BCS, and we think we deserve to be.”

Fiscally, Clemson would love to make a BCS bowl, which pays $17 million to each team. The Chick-fil-A Bowl — the ACC’s highest non-BCS bowl partnership — pays $2.9 million.