McDaniel, Tigers expect Ponder

CLEMSON - Saturday night's game at Florida State serves as the final homecoming game for DeAndre McDaniel, who grew up right around the corner from Doak Campbell Stadium.

"It's going to feel real good," he said of the 8 p.m. game in Tallahassee. "We've got a lot riding on it. It's my last time playing a big ACC game. We've just got to go down there and handle business, end it on a good note."

There, he'll be reunited with Christian Ponder, the Florida State quarterback who suffered a season-ending injury during last season's meeting in Death Valley.

As Clemson clung to a 33-24 fourth quarter lead, McDaniel jumped in front of a Ponder pass and raced up the Florida State sideline towards the West End Zone.

In one of the more iconic plays in recent Clemson football memory, McDaniel pointed in Ponder's direction before dropping his shoulder into the Seminole quarterback.

The play left Ponder with a separated shoulder and further built McDaniel‘s legend as Clemson rolled into the ACC Championship.

Just over a year later McDaniel insisted it's nothing but water under the bridge.

"Everybody's been blowing that up between me and him," he said. "I don't look to go talk to him before the game. Maybe we can talk after the game.

"Before the game, we're not friends until afterwards. We'll handle business, then we can talk."

McDaniel sent Ponder a Facebook message following the game to wish him well. The two met again months later at the ACC Media Kickoff in Greensboro.

But chances are that the two may not be reunited on the field. Ponder is officially listed as doubtful with an elbow injury.

"I expect him to play. I believe he's going to play," McDaniel said. "I don't think he'll sit this one out."

If Ponder doesn't play, Florida State will trot out E.J. Manuel, who was named MVP of last season's Gator Bowl.

"We're expecting Christian Ponder to play. We'll be practicing for Christian Ponder, not his backup," McDaniel said.

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