Toughest test to date

Dabo Swinney and company have their work cut out for them when they head to Tallahassee in six days.

Before a nationally televised primetime audience, No. 9 Clemson will take on No. 4 Florida State in the marquee matchup of the ACC's regular season.

"It's going to be a tough challenge, there's no doubt about it," Swinney said. "But we're going to find out Saturday night, one way or another."

The Tigers' high-powered, hurry-up, no-huddle offense is matched up against a Seminole defense that has given up an average of one point a game over the first three games of the season.

"There are really no weaknesses when you look at their defense," Swinney said. "There's a reason why nobody has scored a touchdown against them. They're very good, very talented.

"They lost, if not the best player in the conference, defensively, certainly one of the top two or three. And they don't seem to be missing a beat. That tells you a little bit about what they've got on defense."

Despite the loss of defensive end Brandon Jenkins, Florida State still has Bjoern Werner, who is second in the country with 6½ sacks.

"Their front, they're just very deep, very talented, fast," Swinney said.

Even with a 3-0 start to the season, Swinney thinks his team will need to play its best football of the young season to have a chance at beating Florida State.

"Hopefully, we can put it all together, because it's certainly going to take a complete game, to have a chance to win this game," he said.

CREAM OF THE CROP: The week three showing by the ACC was pretty crappy. Virginia Tech lost to a winless Pittsburgh team, Maryland fell to UConn, Louisville beat UNC and Boston College lost to Northwestern.

Wake Forest and Virginia looked like pretenders in their respective games against Florida State and Georgia Tech.

Clemson and Florida State, the only undefeated teams in the ACC, are clearly the best two teams in the league. But Swinney isn't ready to say the ACC Atlantic rivals have separated from the rest of the league's largely mediocre field.

"That's getting way out in front of the jury, right now, after three games. We have no idea. We have a tough schedule. We have nine really difficult games in a row coming up here," he said. "Florida State's got a very challenging schedule as well. But I'm very pleased with where we are. This is where we wanted to be. I'm sure Florida State is pleased and this is where they wanted to be.

"This is a marquee matchup of the two programs that have won this conference the most. This is a double whammy, because you're in the same division. Whoever wins this game is certainly in the driver's seat. It doesn't mean that it's over by any stretch of the imagination.

"No matter what happens in this game, I know this is a big game and people want to make it more than it is. You win the game and you've still got eight more games to play, so it's a long season. A lot of things can happen. But this is a huge, huge game, from a conference standpoint, especially in our division."

SPOTLIGHT SAVVY: Clemson's already played on the national stage once this season. Clemson passed the test with a win over Auburn in their house of horrors.

"Hopefully, the fact that these guys have been in a tough environment against a quality opponent -- The Opening game is very difficult, but these guys have played away from home. I know we had a lot of fans there, but we've played away from home. Maybe that will help us out a little bit," Swinney said. "It's still different, because the whole stadium is going to be pulling against you, not just half the stadium."

The environment in Doak Campbell Stadium will be anything but friendly.

"It'll be a tough week of practice, as far as challenging these guys, from a mental standpoint -- crowd noise and all that stuff."

INJURY REPORT: Clemson will have "all hands on board" this week.

Offensive linemen Gifford Timothy, David Beasley and Tyler Shatley will be back, same with running back D.J. Howard, defensive tackle DeShawn Williams and linebacker Jonathan Willard.

"Giff was able to play [against Furman]. Tig and D.J. could have played. We didn't play them. They'll be back rolling, full speed Monday, same thing with David Beasley. Tyler Shatley looked good today. He'll be ready to roll -- DeShawn Williams, same thing," Swinney said. Top Stories