Clemson looks to take that next big step forward

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney believes his team took a major step forward last season. And Swinney knows what's out there if the Tigers make a similar stride this fall.

Swinney said if Clemson sticks to its work ethic and doesn't look too far ahead, it can compete for a title.

The Tigers got a huge boost of confidence this offseason after last New Year's Eve when Clemson used a strong defense and a last-gasp, fourth-quarter drive to topple LSU at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and finish 11-2 for the team's highest win total in more than three decades. A few days later came another plus when Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Tajh Boyd returned for his final season at quarterback.

Boyd will have All-American wideout Sammy Watkins back.

AP-WF-08-13-13 2204GMT