On Sunday, No. 3 Clemson opened as a three-point favorite, according to those in the know in Vegas, to beat No. 13 Florida State in Tallahassee, Florida next Saturday.
What does that mean exactly?
It means nothing if you ask the Tigers. Clemson is 3-12 all-time in Tallahassee, including a 1-11 mark at Doak Campbell Stadium since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992.
“We are in a long line of people that have not won down there in Tallahassee,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinneys said. “That’s a hard place to win.”
Swinney’s right. It is a hard place to win. The ‘Noles have won 23 of their last 24 games there, with the one loss coming a few weeks back when North Carolina kicker Nick Weiler made a 54-yard kick as time expired for a 37-35 victory.
“They do a good job and have a good environment, and what makes it so hard is they always have great players,” Swinney said. “They have great players, great coaches and take pride in playing at home. It is one of the best programs in the country, year in and year out. It is just a tough place to play and shoot, since I have been the head coach, we have not been able to finish.”
The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) come into next Saturday’s 8 p.m. ACC Showdown as one of the nation’s best road teams. Clemson has won eight straight road games to tie a school record, and 10 of their last 11 true road games overall.
But like Swinney said, in Tallahassee they just have not been able to finish the job. In fact, Swinney coached teams are 0-4 at Florida State, one of only three ACC stadiums Clemson has not won a game under Swinney’s direction. The others are at North Carolina, where the Tigers have played just once since he took over in 2008, and at Pitt, where Clemson has never played.
The last time Clemson won in Tallahassee came in 2006 when former running back James Davis scored the winning touchdown with eight seconds to play, giving the Tigers a 27-20 victory over the then No. 9 Seminoles.
It is Clemson’s only win there since 1989. FSU has won the last four meetings in Doak Campbell by 14 points, three points, 12 points and then six points in overtime two years ago.
“We played hard and we have done just about everything you can do down there, but win,” Swinney said. “It is not going to be any easier on this trip. We are going to have to play well to have a chance to beat these guys. There is no question.
“Obviously, we have to take care of the ball. If we take care of the ball, we are going to be alright. We are going to have a chance. But it’s still really hard… We have a lot of respect for them. They’re still Florida State.”