By Will Vandervort
With a date with No. 6 Florida State looming in Death Valley on Oct. 19, it was inevitable Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was going to get the preverbal question Sunday night when he spoke with the media for his regular weekly teleconference.
“Is there any chance your team overlooks Boston College next week because they are thinking about Florida State,” a report asked to start the teleconference.
The Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) and the Seminoles (5-0, 3-0) have been on a collision course since the 2013 football schedule was announced last winter. It has been amplified in the last few weeks with the emergence of Jameis Winton as the Seminoles unquestioned leader at quarterback.
Since third-ranked Clemson, who won the 2011 ACC title, opened the season with an impressive 38-35 victory over then No. 5 Georgia, and Florida State, the defending conference champions, opened its season with a resounding win at Pittsburgh, this game has been looked at and talked about with much anticipation by the national media and both fan bases.
It doesn’t help that the Tigers are coming off an impressive road victory at Syracuse on Saturday and the ‘Noles go into a bye week following a 63-0 thumping of then No. 25 and previously unbeaten Maryland in Tallahassee, Fla.
But before they can get to that game, Clemson has to first get past Boston College next Saturday in Death Valley.
“If they do, we are going to get beat,” Swinney said. “This is a good football team we are getting ready to play and our mentality all year is that this is the biggest game of the year. It is no different this week. We have our hands full with Boston College.
“We have to try and get to 6-0 and that’s our only objective is to get to 6-0. Then we will get ready for the next one after that. If you don’t stay focused on our formula and this opponent you get beat. I don’t anticipate that being a problem.”
The Eagles (3-2, 1-1) are coming off a 48-27 victory over Army on Saturday. BC is led by quarterback Chase Rettig who gave the Seminoles everything they could handle in a 48-34 loss on Sept. 29. The senior threw for 197 yards and four touchdowns against the FSU defense.
“I know with Florida State not having a game that will be something the media will bring up more, but we are not talking about those guys,” Swinney said. “We have our hands full with a very solid Boston College team that is playing with some confidence.
“They are playing tough and physical. We will have to play well. I’m glad that it is in (Clemson) and that we are not having to make back-to-back long road trips. That’s a positive. It’s good to get back here in the Valley, but we have to do a good job getting everyone as healthy as we can this week and put our best foot forward to try and win this game.”
Speaking of injuries, Swinney announced strong safety Travis Blanks is questionable for the Boston College game thanks to a sprain PCL in his knee. He also said reserve linebacker Ben Boulware could miss the game after hyper extending his knee in the Syracuse game.
Everyone else that played in the Syracuse game is healthy, including Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Boyd injured his left hand (his non-throwing hand) in the fourth quarter, while Watkins injured his hip in the first quarter.
The two came back, however, to connect on a 91-yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds to play in the third quarter to seal the Tigers’ victory.