CLEMSON – As it turns out, the Georgia win didn’t quite shed all doubts of what Clemson’s Tigers can do in Death Valley.
The No. 5 Seminoles (5-0) opened as a three-point favorite over the No. 3 Tigers on Sunday – and that’s held pretty steady this week. The last and only time in three seasons Clemson was a home underdog was the opener against Georgia. In those same three years, the Tigers have gone 17-1 at home, and 14 of those wins were by double-digits.
Vegas, an entity built on trends (and making money), is hedging its bets on a Florida State program that’s underperformed as the road favorite in 6-of-7 games in two years – and a series where the home team has won 10-of-11.
Disrespect? That’s not exactly the angle the Tigers are taking this week.
“I'm not sure why in particular we're the underdog, but we don't really think anything of it,” Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “It's not really disrespect or anything like that. It's just people's perception, what they think. Again, it's up to us to go out there and change what they think.”
“I feel like we're a team that we like to prove people wrong,” Tigers defensive end Corey Crawford said. “If people say we we're going to lose to Florida State, that's just putting fire on top of the fire. I'm kind of ready for it.”
Will favorites and underdogs matter much come Saturday?
“As far as being a factor, whether we're an underdog or whatever, that has nothing to do with it,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We know they're a great team. We've got great respect for them. I know that they know that we're a good football team, and we've got to just play well.”
Welcome Break: Both sides of the showdown are rested, one way or another.
After a Labor Day opener to start the year, Florida State is on its second bye in the season’s first eight weeks. Junior Seminoles running back James Wilder Jr. says the week off comes at just about the right time.
“Coming into the middle of the season, your legs (and) your body gets wore down,” he said. “It lets us get off of our legs a little big and get a lot more mental work on the next opponent.”
For the Tigers, they still had to play last weekend, but Clemson’s fall break fell this week, giving them Monday and Tuesday off from classes.
“That was sweet,” Crawford said. “Don't have to worry about school. Just football focus.”
With NCAA limits on hours the coaching staff can have with players, any advantage helps, says Swinney.
“I think fall break has come at a good time for us, especially with them having a week off,” Swinney said. “It's allowed our guys coming off a tough hard fought game to check out a little bit mentally from an academic standpoint.
“Listen, we only get 17 hours to get our team ready. It's not like we can just have these guys. We get 17 hours. So you've got to have a great, efficient plan in place and be very organized to prepare a team.”