Fourth-ranked Clemson turns its focus to defeating Florida State on Saturday in hopes of clinching the Atlantic Division and securing a third straight trip to the ACC Championship game next month.
On Tuesday, the media spoke to head coach Dabo Swinney, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, wide receiver Deon Cain and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel.
Here is what we heard:
Swinney said the Florida State-Clemson rivalry has been a good one, regardless of each team’s rankings.
“This game right here has really decided the division every year I’ve been a head coach,” Swinney said. “It’s been Clemson and Florida State every year, nine years now, one of us in the championship game. We all know what’s at stake this week and the type of Florida State team we’re going to see.
“Some teams records are bad and they are just bad, but that is not always the case. This teams is not as bad as their record. They barely lost to NC State. They barely lost to Miami. They are a good team.”
Florida State’s has a 3-5 ecord and the Tigers know that the Seminoles will be fighting for bowl eligibility on Saturday. Clemson expects Florida State will still give its best effort.
“Not at all because this is always a big game because it’s Florida State and Clemson. Regardless of what the records are it’s always the biggest game of the year,” Wilkins said.
“They have really talented players and they are playing us. We have to approach it every week like it’s the biggest game of the year.”
Every week, Clemson’s mindset is to go into each game as if it is the only one. Deon Cain said playing Florida State has a different vibe, especially when this matchup has decided the Atlantic Division titles since 2008.
“This will probably be a little more intense because now we are going to try to clinch the ACC and this is really one of our goals that we just want to cancel out,” Cain said. “So we have to come in there with a good, humble mindset and really be ready to attack because at the end of the day we are going to get the best Florida State and I know they’re going to come in playing hard.”
Florida State lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois in the season opener, which undoubtedly played a part in its struggles. But no matter what, O’Daniel said it is important to focus on each matchup like the team is undefeated.
“It’s unfortunate for them,” he said. “They still have good players across the board, but any time your starting quarterback goes down, it’s hard to rebound and make a run. But a lot of their losses are on the last play so it’s not like they haven’t been in close games with good teams. So you have to take that into account. For us, it’s preparing as if they were undefeated.”