Crunch Time

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON — When the schedule makers set this year’s ACC schedule, there was no reason for any of them to think the Saturday of Nov. 4 would be the biggest weekend of the year, and that the Miami-Virginia Tech game in the Orange Bowl would only be a sidebar story.

But that is exactly the case as two ACC Atlantic Divisional games will go a long Saturday in shaping this year’s ACC Championship game schedule for Dec. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. And yes, neither one involves defending conference champion Florida State.

First Maryland with its 6-2 overall record and 3-1 record in the ACC invades No. 19 Clemson’s Death Valley at noon, while No. 16 Boston College visits No. 22 Wake Forest in a primetime match up at 7 p.m.

Clemson (7-2, 4-2) needs a win to stay alive in the Atlantic Division race as it trails Boston College, Wake Forest and Maryland by one game. The winner of the Boston College-Wake Forest game will be in control of its own destiny.

“We are going to need some help,” Clemson center Dustin Fry said. “That’s what’s tough about this.”

What the Tigers need is a Wake Forest win Saturday, followed by Boston College and Wake Forest losing another conference game in the weeks to come. If that happens and Clemson beats Maryland and then N.C. State on Nov. 11, then the Tigers will play in the ACC championship game. However, if that doesn’t happen, and Wake Forest beats Boston College and loses just one game after that, and Boston College wins its remaining three games, then their could be a three-way tie for first place. In that situation the ACC will go to its second tiebreaker scenario.
In that scenario, the conference will look at the three teams’ divisional record and if one team is eliminated they will then revert back to head-to-head play. So if Wake Forest beats Boston College and loses any of its remaining games, Clemson wins out and B.C. loses to Wake Forest and then wins out, the Eagles would be eliminated by virtue of its two losses in the division, while Wake Forest would be eliminated because of its loss to Clemson on Oct. 7.

But that’s what has to happen. If Wake Forest fails to beat Boston College Saturday, then all this might be a moot point, and Tiger fans will then have to start hoping for a Maryland upset over Boston College on Nov. 18 and then a BC loss at Miami on Thanksgiving Day.
If the Tigers lose to Maryland, however, then none of that matters.

“We want to know where we stand, but at the same time we want to win this game coming up,” Clemson right tackle Marion Dukes said. “Just keeping our mind focused is what we have to do.

“We cannot talk about the standings throughout the week. We have to prepare for Maryland.”

But Clemson coach Tommy Bowden thinks it is time for his team to understand what’s at stake and what has to happen in order for them to reach the ACC Championship game. Bowden addressed the team Monday on that subject to point out that all was not lost in the Virginia Tech loss.

“This is the first time after we’ve played nine games, I’ve talked about what’s still left on the table,” Bowden said. “After we play N.C. State there is nine more conference games left. A lot of things can happen with nine games left after we finish.

“We have two more conference games, and Boston College and Wake still have four. Our players are aware of that. But we didn’t talk too much about it because if we don’t beat Maryland it doesn’t mean anything.

“And Maryland is right there too because they have no divisional losses. So they have the same elements to play for as we do.”

When asked why wait until now to bring all this up, Bowden replied with a “Why not?”

”Well we are getting towards the end of the conference. I thought the timing was good,” he said. “We lost a game and we’ve got two conference games left at home. I just thought the timing was good.”

Just like the ACC schedule’s timing – even it wasn’t on purpose.

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