Upward movement

Clemson has gone from underrated to the Top 10 in rapid fashion -- evidence of what three consecutive victories over ranked opponents can do for one's status.

At 5-0 and No. 8 in both polls, Clemson is now suddenly faced with dealing with an excess of praise and publicity. But if first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris has his way, the Tigers will be in no danger of thinking too highly of themselves.

Without focus, Morris is quick to point out, the Tigers could lose each of their remaining seven games.

"Everybody in the country is telling these guys how great they are -- and rightly so -- because they've done some good things," Morris said. "But 5-7 is not a very good year, and that's what I'll be reminding them of this week. We've got to make sure we keep them humble."

To a man, Clemson's players contend that maintaining a humble attitude should be easy given last year's disappointing 6-7 finish -- the first losing season at Clemson since 1998.

"It won't be a problem for us because of where we've been," senior offensive tackle Landon Walker said. "This team is different. We have a different mentality. You've got to remember where you came from and what got you to where you are."

Such statements are precisely what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney loves to hear, particularly as the Tigers prepare to enter a mid-season stretch of three games against teams that at least on paper don't match up with the Tigers.

"This team has a good feel for the big picture," Swinney said. "The reason we're 5-0 is because we've stayed focused on our preparation. We may get beat somewhere along the way, but if that's the case, hopefully they beat us because they're a better team - not because we weren't focused enough.

"Our focus is 100 percent on trying to win our division, and this is a division game. We need to continue to have a real businesslike approach."

WEDNESDAY NOTES: Redshirt sophomore Tajh Boyd has won each of his first five starts as Clemson's quarterback. If the Tigers defeat Boston College on Oct. 8, Boyd will tie Mike Eppley's record of six straight wins as a starter at the beginning of his career. Eppley took over in the middle of the 1982 season and won four straight games, then won the 1983 opener before losing to Boston College in the third game of the season.

Andre Branch is off to a fast start to his senior campaign. (Roy Philpott)
* Senior DE Andre Branch leads Clemson in tackles with 34, seven more than S Jonathan Meeks. No defensive lineman has led the Tigers in tackles since 1984, when middle guard William "The Refrigerator" Perry led the Tigers with 100. Perry was a first-team All-American that season.

* Through five games, Clemson's offense is on a record pace in five categories: points per game (34.8), yards per game (466.8), passing yards per game (293.2), pass efficiency (159.4) and touchdown passes per game (2.80).

SERIES HISTORY: The Clemson-Boston College series is tied, 9-9-2 (last meeting 2010, Boston College won 16-10 at Boston College).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Offense was Clemson's strong suit in its first four games, but the Tigers struggled against Virginia Tech on Oct. 1. The fact that Clemson was playing on the road on a cold and wet night in a challenging environment may have contributed, but Virginia Tech's top-five defense didn't help matters, either. As Swinney said, "our offense did just enough."

QB Tajh Boyd slopped through his worst game, but completed key passes and guided the Tigers to scores when it counted most. Stars Sammy Watkins and Andre Ellington didn't have the best of nights, but others took up the slack. TE Dwayne Allen and WR Jaron Brown made multiple clutch catches and freshman RB Mike Bellamy sealed the victory with a 31-yard burst with six minutes left in the game. Look for the offense to find yardage easier to come by against Boston College on Oct. 8 as the Eagles rank 85th nationally in total defense.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Clemson's defense emerged in a big way against Virginia Tech, turning in its best performance of the season in the Oct. 1 win over the Hokies. The Tigers entered the game with 12 tackles for loss on the season; they had 10 against the Hokies.

Clemson also held Virginia Tech to 258 total yards. With a healthy shot of confidence derived from that showing, Clemson should continue to thrive when Boston College visits Clemson on Oct. 8. The Eagles are 98th in total offense, offering Clemson's defense another opportunity to improve itself statistically.

DT Brandon Thompson and DE Andre Branch, both seniors, are coming off their best games, and the entire defense seemed uplifted by its most recent showing. LBs Corico Hawkins and Quandon Christian will key on BC RB Montel Harris, the league's preseason Player of the Year who will be starting for just the second time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 17.

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