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Dabo Swinney Takes Playful Shot At Big Ten Rivalry Game

Dabo Swinney speaks on the sideline.

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 22: Head Coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers calls a play against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on September 22, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Rivalries are the backbone of college football. At least Dabo Swinney thinks so.

On Tuesday, Clemson's head coach expressed excitement for rivalry week. Per Matt Connolly of Clemson Sports, Swinney called this weekend "a season of its own."

Ahead of Clemson's matchup against South Carolina, he conveyed gratitude for participating in a rich rivalry showcase. He joked that not every college program has a true nemesis.

"Northwestern and Indiana, they're probably not having marriages break up over that," Swinney said. "No offense to Northwestern and Indiana."

Meanwhile, the Alabama native and former Crimson Tide assistant coach described the intensity surrounding the Iron Bowl.

"You grow up in Alabama, that's it. I've said many times, you don't even leave the hospital, you've gotta declare right there. Which way you going? And they put it right on your birth certificate," Swinney said."

Any marriage that ends because of any sports rivalry was doomed from the beginning. Hopefully no Tigers fans are walking out on a loving partner just because they root for the Gamecocks.

But a meaningful rivalry sparks interest and elevates both competitors. While Swinney mocked two big Big Ten teams, the college football world has seemingly spent all season anticipating Saturday's game between Ohio State and Michigan.

Swinney lost his first five meetings against South Carolina after becoming head coach in 2009. However, the Tigers have rebounded to win the last seven games, including a 30-0 rout in Columbia last year.

"It's special. It really is," Swinney said of rivalries. "It means a lot to a lot of people. It never gets old. It's a big deal to a lot of people. I've always just embraced it because it's natural to me."

Saturday's game between Clemson and South Carolina begins at noon ET on ABC.