Legal issues notwithstanding, this is outstanding news for the
Indeed, this is just the manner of hype the conference needs far more often to polish its football image.
A top-10 collision of league teams; Chris, Kirk and Lee in town; tickets fetching four figures online or from the dude on the corner: That's standard fare in the
Saturday's prime-time affair — 8 p.m. on
The SEC, conversely, staged 11 top-10 clashes from 2009-11 alone, including last season's national title game between
The only season in which the ACC enjoyed two top-10 games was 2004: Clemson-Florida State and
"Huge," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday.
Huge for the teams, with the winner seizing control of the ACC's Atlantic Division and remaining front-and-center in the national conversation.
Huge for the quarterbacks, the
And huge for the conference.
"Every team needs a star," Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said, "every league needs a star, every movie needs a star. You need marquee teams, and I think we have our share of them, but once again, it has to be done on the field."
While producing an array of good teams and scores of
The Tigers defeated Auburn before dusting Ball State and Furman. The Seminoles routed Murray State, Savannah State (an 11th-hour replacement for
With Boyd, tailback Andre Ellington and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson has the more accomplished skill players. Anchored by ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, Florida State boasts the more dominant defense.
"Giving up three points in three games, I don't care who you play, that is hard to do," Swinney said.
"I feel very comfortable with what I've seen," he said. "We didn't overlook opponents that we knew we were better than, (and) we've prepared extremely well for an opponent that's played us very well the last six years."
Clemson is 4-2 against Florida State since 2006, dating to the Bowden Bowl days matching Seminoles legend Bobby against his son Tommy. Swinney and Fisher have brought more of an edge to their respective programs, and the rivalry.
"Florida State and Clemson should be two of the best teams in this country every year," Swinney said. "We need Clemson and we need Florida State, from a conference standpoint, to be what they're capable of being."
Virginia Tech belongs in that mix as well. Since joining the league in 2004, the Hokies have been its premier program.
But not since Florida State in 2000 has an ACC team finished among the top five in the Associated Press poll. As commissioner John Swofford and his coaches often acknowledge, that void has damaged the conference's reputation.
Damage repair starts Saturday morning, when Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and the rest of
"Very anxious to watch our guys — how we respond to this as far as going through all the media and being able to eliminate the clutter," Fisher said.
"These guys aren't isolated in a cage somewhere," Swinney said. "They understand this is a huge game. But you have to be careful because this is the fourth game. Our next goal is to win the division. That's what we're trying to do. Is it a big game for the division? You'd better believe it because the winner of this game is in control, and the loser of the game is at the mercy of others."