CLEMSON - This was supposed to be the year Clemson finally had a shot to beat Florida State.
That didn't happen, of course, and Saturday's 41-27 defeat also ended any hopes the Tigers entertained of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title.
Now, with three regular season games to play, the focus turns to a strong finish. Clemson returns to action this Saturday night at No. 13 Maryland, where the surprising Terps (8-1, 5-1 ACC) will try to beat the team that has won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the schools.
"You'd like for the guys who are playing to have a taste of success heading into the offseason," Bowden said at his regular Tuesday press conference. "I look at every game with equal importance. I thought every game my first year here was, it just so happened we played South Carolina at 5-5 with a bowl bid on the line.
"It's the same thing this year. I don't think the North Carolina or Florida State game is any more important than the Maryland or South Carolina or the Duke game."
Bowden's Tigers (5-3, 3-3) have shown the ability to rebound from defeat. Not counting last season's Gator Bowl loss to Virginia Tech, Clemson is 3-1 in its last four games following a loss.
That's one reason he remains optimistic heading into this game.
"I can only go based on the experiences we've had this year, how they've responded at Georgia Tech after Virginia and at Wake Forest after North Carolina," he said. "If that's accurate, then I think they'll respond well."
- Speculation that defensive backs coach Jack Hines might be a candidate for the Samford University head coaching job appears to be just that.
Samford fired head coach Pete Hurt after he got off to a 1-3 start this season. Offensive coordinator Bill Gray was promoted to interim head coach after Hurt's firing, and has led Samford to three consecutive wins since taking over.
A source in Birmingham (Ala.), speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it appears the job is Gray's to keep "unless he really screws up. He could lose both of his last two games and still keep the job."
The source said Hines' name had not surfaced on any unofficial list of possible candidates. Hines coached defensive backs at Samford from 1987-92.
- Quarterback Woody Dantzler was named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2001 Davey O'Brien Award, the honor given to the country's best quarterback by the nation's writers and broadcasters.
This is the second straight year Dantzler has been chosen a semifinalist for the award. He has completed 150-240 passes for 1,760 yards and 11 touchdowns, and has rushed for 737 yards in 156 carries and has scored nine touchdowns.
The three finalists will be announced Nov. 27 by the National College Football Awards Association. The winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show at 9 p.m., Dec. 6, in Orlando.
Other finalists include David Carr (Fresno State), Eric Crouch (Nebraska), Brandon Doman (BYU), Ken Dorsey (Miami), Jason Gesser (Wash. State), Rex Grossman (Florida), Eli Manning (Miss.), Joey Harrington (Oregon), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Kurt Kittner (Illinois) and Chris Sims (Texas).
- Wide receiver Kevin Youngblood is not expected back for either the Maryland or USC game as once thought. "We'll be lucky to have him back for the Duke game," Bowden said.