CLEMSON, S.C. – After Clemson’s great escape against Boston College, the third-ranked Tigers finally can focus on No. 5 Florida State and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first matchup of top-five teams in eight years.
“It may be the biggest game in ACC history. We don’t know,” said defensive end Vic Beasley, who had a big scoop-and-score touchdown in the Tigers’ 24-14 victory Saturday. “But our goal is to win a national championship.”
It is the first ACC meeting of top-five teams since No. 5 Miami defeated third-ranked Virginia Tech 27-7 in 2005. And Saturday night’s winner in Clemson’s Death Valley will have another impressive line on its résumé in the hunt for the national title.
“Obviously, we know it’s a big game, got a lot of national relevance, conference relevance and all that,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday.
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The Seminoles (5-0 overall, 3-0 ACC) are rested and confident, coming off a 63-0 victory over Maryland and then an open date last weekend. Clemson (6-0, 4-0) needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns against BC to stay perfect.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd rushed for a 6-yard score with 13:44 left to put the Tigers ahead for good.
After the final seconds ticked off, Clemson’s players could finally do what many fans have since the Tigers opened with a 38-35 victory over then-No. 5 Georgia on Aug. 31 — talk about Florida State.
“Last year, they got us, but I feel like we should have won. We’re looking for payback,” said Beasley, who has a career-best nine sacks this season.
Clemson was ahead 27-13 in Tallahassee last season before the Seminoles rallied for a 49-37 victory.
Florida State hasn’t won in Death Valley since 2001.
Clemson and Florida State have high-powered offenses and relentless defenses. The Seminoles average nearly 54 points a game, about 10 more than the Tigers. Clemson leads the nation with 24 sacks.
“I’m trying to get the ACC to give me 13 guys and give me two more linemen so we can block them,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I’m serious, they bring pressure.”
Both teams feature skilled passers and Heisman Trophy contenders in Boyd and Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
“He doesn’t look like any redshirt freshman I’ve ever seen,” Swinney said of Winston.
• The Southeastern Conference has a record eight teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 media poll, led by No. 1 Alabama. No conference has had more than seven teams in a regular-season poll; the SEC had eight in the 2011 preseason poll.
Seven ranked teams lost Saturday, including five to teams that were unranked or ranked lower. Stanford plunged from No. 5 to 13th after losing 27-20 in a Pac-12 game at Utah.
SEC teams joining Alabama in the AP poll are No. 6 Louisiana State, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 11 South Carolina, No. 14 Missouri, No. 15 Georgia, No. 22 Florida and No. 24 Auburn.
Second-ranked Oregon leads four Pac-12 teams in the AP poll. The others are No. 9 UCLA, Stanford and No. 20 Washington.