Now Or Never - Tigers Need Win to Stay in ACC Race

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON -- It doesn't get any bigger than this. When Boston College visits Clemson today for a noon kickoff, one team will keep its vision of making the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game alive, while the other will have to change its post season goals.

With already one conference loss, the Tigers (2-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) and Eagles can ill-afford to lose a second game. The stakes might be even higher for Boston College.

The Eagles' (2-1, 0-1) loss to Florida State last week was a divisional defeat, putting them a few steps behind Clemson, who already owns an Atlantic Division win over Maryland.

"Boston College has a divisional loss and we don't," said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden. "So the stakes are higher. I think, from a motivational standpoint, that makes my job a little easier." But it's not that easy.

"They work hard all summer and go through summer camp just like us," said Clemson bandit end Gaines Adams. "They want to win like we want to win. I don't think what happened to them in the Florida State game is going to have any effect on them for us.

"They're coming down here to win, and we are going to have to want it more than they do." In order to do that, the Tigers will have to prove early on they have put the triple overtime loss to No. 12 Miami behind them. Last year, Clemson struggled to regain its confidence after a heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech.

"I don't think that is going to be a problem," said cornerback Tye Hill. "I know I won't be thinking about Miami. When we get to the top of that hill and charge down it, the only thing on my mind will be (Boston College)." It helps Clemson that it's at home today. After losing the Georgia Tech game last year, the Tigers hit the road for three consecutive weeks where they dropped all three games.

"I don't think it will happen this year," said Bowden. "For one it's a home game and that will help a lot as far as them being ready, plus this a team that has been here before.

"The older players remember what has happened here before. They're more seasoned now." Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst agrees with his head coach, knowing if they don't get things done on the field today, it has nothing to do with the Miami loss.

"We've got a bunch of guys that have been here two or three years," said the senior. "We've seen the bad years and have been through that roller coaster.

"I think we know how to deal with it."

Now the question is how the Tigers will deal with a Boston College team that is coming to Death Valley hungry to get its first ACC victory?

"We just have to play our game," said Hill. "We can't worry so much about them as ourselves. If we do what we're supposed to do and stick to our assignments, then we will be alright." Whitehurst and Hill said from here on out, it will be up to the seniors to make sure the rest of the team keeps its head up and doesn't lose focus on what they can accomplish.

"We all understand where we are," Hill said. "We realize we have to turn it around, take what we did in the Miami game and learn from it.

"I think everybody on this team believes this can be a special team, and this can be a special year for all of us." But how special will depend on how the Tigers handle themselves in today's game.

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