TALLAHASEE, Fla. — Did you hear the eerily constant “GameDay” buzz? The beehive gathered near Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday for ESPN’s traveling football sideshow could be heard from Cedar Key to Panama City.

The No. 4 Seminoles look like the powerhouse programFlorida State fans used to know, and that’s good for Clemson.

It means a 49-31 loss Saturday night was a legitimate test; the No. 10 Tigers are back to their old problems on defense but won’t face a better team in a more hostile environment.

A mediocre, inconsistent, underachieving team in Tallahassee is bad for the ACC and makes the accomplishments of every other team in the league less meaningful.

These Seminoles look like authentic national title contenders.

It’s not the Bowden Bowl; it’s potentially something richer.

Jimbo vs. Dabo in the real ACC championship game.

Home field rules.

A “GameDay” staple.


Saturday night’s top 10 showdown — just the ninth featuring a pair of ACC teams — is what the conference had in mind when Florida State joined the league in 1992, just as Clemson was starting on a post-Danny Ford decline.

Old-school Florida State won or shared 12 ACC titles from 1992-2005. But the recently so-so Seminoles haven’t played in an ACC championship game since, appearing only once in 2010 (a 44-33 loss to Virginia Tech).

Of course, Clemson fans can relate. The 2011 sweetness of Clemson’s first ACC title since 1991 was soured by the 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

Apparently, the new ACC championship game path runs through what might emerge 20 years later as one of the best rivalries in college football.

Florida State has perhaps the best front seven in the nation.

Clemson at Death Valley next season will counter the Seminoles with a defensive line potentially featuring highly regarded commitments Robert Nkemdiche and Scott Pagano as freshman starters.

“GameDay” was here a year ago for No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Florida State, as current Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and the Sooners prevailed, 23-13. Both teams fizzled and didn’t even finish in the top 15.

This time, homemade signs poking fun at Clemson ranged from the typical …

“The only good Tiger plays golf!”

… to the corny …

“Dabo spelled sideways is Bad O(ffense)”

… to the unmentionable in a family newspaper.

Yes, the roar in and around Doak Campbell Stadium was all day, into the night and the wee hours of this morning. Strangely, the craziest cheer was for something as predictable as zany Maryland uniforms: Lee Corso, the former Florida State football player, picked the Seminoles to win, wearing full Chief Osceola face paint and feathers for emphasis.

Complete with goofy toy war spear.

By the way, the actual chief is buried a few yards outside the entrance to Fort Moultire — in South Carolina, where Florida State must play Clemson next year.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at gsapakoff@postandcourier