CLEMSON -- Among those joining Clemson coach Dabo Swinney's teleconference Sunday were several national media reporters. The growing media interest in undefeated Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) combined with the Tigers' rise to No. 13 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll means Clemson is no longer a secret, but rather something of a national curiosity.
The Tigers now face their greatest test to date and a chance to further encroach upon the national spotlight with a trip to No. 11 Virginia Tech (4-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2). It's Clemson's first road game this year.
"We said we have the opportunity, if we take care of business, to make ourselves relevant," Swinney said. "September doesn't make a season, but it's good people are talking about Clemson. We're just trying to get better, stay focused. We've still got October and November."
Saying he preferred to talk about rankings in December, he turned the focus to improving on the road -- Clemson was 1-5 away from Memorial Stadium last year -- and Virginia Tech, the reigning ACC champion considered by Swinney to be "the best team in the ACC.
"The thing I know about Virginia Tech is that they are very physical," Swinney said. "We can't let them run all over us or it is going to be a long night."
Swinney is hoping Kevin Steele's defense found answers to some of its issues against Florida State. Before Saturday, Clemson was 110th in the country in rush defense, allowing 224 yards per game. Clemson held Florida State to 29 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Statistically, Virginia Tech is the second-best running team in the ACC after Georgia Tech, featuring explosive tailback David Wilson. But Virginia Tech has yet to play a power-conference opponent this season, beating Marshall, Arkansas State, East Carolina and Appalachian State.
McNeal, Swinney to meet
Swinney plans to meet with reserve receiver Bryce McNeal today. McNeal missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and the Florida State game due to what the team labeled "personal reasons." Swinney would not address if McNeal is upset with playing time, but McNeal is buried on the depth chart with the emergence of talented freshmen like Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant.
"He's got some personal things he's evaluating," Swinney said.
Punter Dawson Zimmerman (knee) and receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) are questionable for Saturday's game.