CLEMSON - Every summer when the Bowden family retreats for its annual
vacation, it's elder statesman Bobby who ends up footing most of the bill.
Why? Because his Seminoles have yet to lose to Clemson since son Tommy became
Tonight, the Tigers will have their fourth opportunity in Tommy Bowden's
tenure to knock off his old man. Doing so would not only signal a shift in
the balance of power in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but also would shift
financial responsibility for the summer get-together.
At least to a certain extent.
"If we win then I'll pay this summer," Tommy Bowden joked. "That's groceries,
The eyes of the nation will be on the two teams tonight (7:45 p.m., ESPN),
not because of the Bowden vacation slush fund and not even because it's
Bowden Bowl IV.
They'll be watching, Tommy said, because they want to see how the Seminoles
bounce back from an embarrassing loss to Louisville a week ago.
"If we were both ranked in the top 10 nationally, this game might have more
of a father/son issue to it," he said. "But now the big interest nationally
is how Florida State will respond after losing to an unranked team. I think
that is why most of the nation will tune in. Not so much to see us, but how
they will respond."
Regardless of the Seminoles' stumbling seven days ago, they remain the
measuring stick for the ACC.
They also remain a befuddling enigma for Clemson, who has lost its last five
meeting in Tallahassee by an average score of - get this - 42-2. Clemson's
mode of operation in Doak Campbell Stadium usually consists of early
turnovers and a double-digit deficit almost before it can get off the bus.
That's why Bowden feels his father's team losing to Louisville can have no
positive effects on Clemson tonight.
"There is no doubt that what little chance we had of them looking past us is
gone," he said. "Had they beaten Louisville, they may have looked ahead a bit
to Miami and Notre Dame. I think the loss refocused them and got their
So it will take a supreme - not to mention unusually error-free - effort for
Clemson to shake the spirits tonight in Tallahassee.
And the Tigers may have some much needed help in doing so. Running backs
Bernard Rambert (tendonitis) and Chad Jasmin (groin) both are expected to see
action for the first time since the season-opener at Georgia. Defensive end
Khaleed Vaughn (ankle), defensive tackle Todd McClinton (ankle) and
linebacker Eric Sampson (bruised thigh) all are expected to be at or near 100
That leaves senior defensive tackle Nick Eason as the only question mark.
Recovering from a sprained knee, Eason's availability will be a game time
"He'll probably have to be hit some in pregame by a 300-pounder to see if his
knee can withstand that type of pressure," Bowden said. "If it does and he
feels good, he'll play. If there is any doubt or indecision on his part,
we'll hold him because we have seven games left after this one."