Clemson, FSU likely to decide ACC title, again
By Will Vandervort
GREENSBORO, N.C. —Circle this date on your calendar – October 19.
That’s the day Florida State will visit Clemson Memorial Stadium in a game that will more than likely decide the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. In each of the last four years, the winner between the Tigers and the Seminoles has played for the ACC Championship, and the last two years they have each won the league title.
One hundred and two members of the media voted during the ACC Football Kickoff that Clemson will more than likely be representing the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship Game come December, and 95 of them think the Tigers will win it.
In case you are wondering, Florida State finished second in both ballots. Do you see where this is going?
“That is the way it should be and that’s the way we need it to be,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “This conference needs Clemson and Florida State to be strong. Hopefully, we can continue to put great teams out there and sooner or later produce one of those dominant teams that we all want.”
Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher says the only difference between Clemson and Florida State is where the game is played. The Tigers have won five straight games against FSU in Death Valley, while the ‘Noles have won the last three at Doak Campbell Stadium.
“The fans play a big role in the outcome,” Fisher said. “Both stadiums play a big part in the outcome of the game. Both teams feed off of that.
“The last couple of years, the fans sitting in that stadium have played a big role in who has won the game.”
Swinney says it is not just one of the best games in the ACC every year, but in the country, too.
“They are a great program and well coached and they have a great tradition down there,” he said. “That game has been huge. Since I have been the head coach, the winner of that game has gone on and played for the championship. It is a critical game for both programs and it is one of those games where the margin of error is very small every single year.
“Last year, I thought we played as good as we could play for three quarters down there, but the next thing you know, you give up a 90-yard kick return and a pass over the top and then the momentum changes. So a few plays within a game can really make a difference when you have two really good teams battling it out, and that is the way it is when you have Clemson and Florida State playing.”
ACC is on the rise. Swinney says it will not be too long before someone in the ACC is able to not only become a player on the national level, but win a national championship.
“I think this is a very competitive league and I think it is going to be a good year for the ACC,” he said. “I’m very excited about Pitt and Syracuse joining us and Louisville coming in next year. I think the league has some stability now going into the season that we did not have last year.
“I think it is a great league that is on the rise and in my opinion is going to produce the overall champion very soon.”