CLEMSON — Before the Clemson coaches and players had even emerged from their locker room shortly after Saturday’s 24-14 escape act over Boston College, electronic signs inside the football complex had already reset the clocks.
Countdown to Florida State: seven days and change to kickoff.
It wasn’t much later that head coach Dabo Swinney, hair neatly combed and refreshed in a suit after a shower, took the podium and finally discussed the mammoth matchup descending on Death Valley on Oct. 19.
“We’ve got a heck of a football team. Florida State’s got a heck of a football team,” Swinney declared. “This ought to be a classic.”
With No. 5 Stanford stumbling in Utah late on the West Coast, the intrigue kicked up another notch, since the idle Seminoles are in position to rise to the No. 5 Associated Press ranking.
No. 3 Clemson would have the honor of hosting the first matchup between two top-five teams played in the state of South Carolina. Ever.
“I hope that we’ve got games like this all the time at Clemson,” Swinney said. “I hope this is the norm. That the middle of the season, we’ve got huge games like this. The end of the season, you’ve got huge games like this. You embrace it.
“It’s a huge dang game. I mean, it’s one game; we win it, it’s not over. We got a long way to go. If you lose it, you’re not out of it, you’re still probably a top 10-type team and a BCS-type team.”
Swinney pointed out recent Alabama-LSU games which hold so much national intrigue — not to mention division, conference and national implications — based on one single 60-minute effort. Also, the home team has won all of the past four matchups in the FSU-Clemson feud, and each time that victor has represented the Atlantic division in the ACC championship game.
“The winner is not going to be crowned national champion,” Swinney said, “but certainly stay very strongly in that picture.”
Finally unsheathed from its focus on Boston College, the Tigers couldn’t wait to discuss the upcoming matchup with its chief conference rival.
“Can’t wait for it, man. I love big games,” quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “I love playing in the Valley. It’s going to be exciting.”
Defensive end Vic Beasley, one of the quieter guys on the team, couldn’t hide his bitter taste from when No. 10 Clemson fell to No. 4 Florida State, 49-37, in Tallahassee.
“Last year, they got us, but I feel like we should have won,” Beasley said. “We’re looking for payback.”
Beasley was already amped to face FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, and got goosebumps at pondering this game’s place in ACC football lore.
“Oooh, there’s gonna be a lot of eyes on this game. It may be the biggest game in ACC history. We don’t know,” Beasley said. “But our goal is to win a national championship. We’re just focused on Florida State right now, and hopefully we get the win this weekend.”
The “GameDay” visit next week marks the first time since 2007 (Oregon and LSU) the show has appeared on the same campus twice in the same season.
Smith’s big day
Safety Robert Smith of St. George led Clemson with nine tackles and broke up a pass.
Smith, a graduate of Woodland High School, also had nine tackles last week at Syracuse, and now ranks third on the Tigers behind linebackers Stephone Anthony and Spencer Shuey with 35 on the season.
Another Boyd record
Quietly, Boyd became the program’s all-time leading passer with a 5-yard completion to Sammy Watkins. He now has 9,836 passing yards.
Clemson was only 4 of 17 on third down Saturday. The Tigers came into the game third in the ACC in third down conversions (48.2 percent.)
But on the flip side
Boston College was 3 of 15 on third down; halfway through the ACC campaign, the Tigers’ four conference foes have gone 12 for 65, just a 16.7 percent conversion rate.
Florida State has been nearly as excellent in the same category. Its three ACC opponents have moved the chains on just 19.4 percent of third-down tries.
Hopper, Geohaghan banned
Rookie reserves Germone Hopper and Ronald Geohaghan were suspended from the game for a violation of team rules.
“Just two freshmen with really poor behavior and unacceptable behavior not representative of who we are,” Swinney said. “Hopefully they’ll learn from it and grow up from it.”
Asked if they’d be reinstated for the Florida State game, Swinney responded, “We’ll see how they act this week.”
Hopper is a wide receiver who entered Saturday ranked second on the squad with 16 catches.
Shaq Lawson down
Freshman defensive end Shaq Lawson needed help to the sideline after pushing Alex Amidon out of bounds on a jet sweep. His shoulder popped out, and was popped back in by the training staff.
“He seemed like he was OK,” Swinney said. “We’ll see where he is on Monday, but he felt pretty good in the locker room.”
Lawson has 6½ tackles for a loss this season.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said loudness from the West end zone was a factor in Chase Rettig’s fourth-quarter fumble. Tony Steward sacked the Eagles’ quarterback, Vic Beasley recovered and returned the ball 13 yards for a touchdown.
“Backed into that end zone,” Addazio said, “it’s hard to hear.”
Gene Sapakoff contributed to this notebook. Follow Aaron Brenner’s Clemson coverage on Twitter at @Aaron_Brenner.
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