Not just another opponent

CLEMSON - There's a saying that has floated around the West End Zone facility for the last couple of seasons.

Local media-types tend snicker and roll their eyes each time words "nameless, faceless opponent" are mentioned during an interview.

It's the mentality that Dabo Swinney preaches to his team every week, no matter who's on the schedule that Saturday. And, to be honest, it's probably played a part in preventing Clemson from, well...

So, there's something to be said for the approach, as cliche as it might seem to cynical scribes.

"We prepare for everybody the same, every week, everyday," said Corey Crawford, who's not only emerged as a top defender, but one of the team's best spokesmen.

"We don't try to give anybody more than we're already doing or less than what we give any other team."

But it's a little different this week. Saturday's opponent isn't a directional FCS opponent or a lower tier program from the ACC.

Florida State comes to town on Saturday. As has been the case over the last few years when the Tigers and Seminoles get together, there are major implications tied to this game.

This isn't just another opponent. Nobody in the West End Zone is hiding from that this week.

"Of course, you're going to have more emotions to it, just because it's Florida State, it's a big rivalry, it's ACC," Crawford said. "Of course, you're going to have more emotions for it.

"But, for us preparing for it, and things of that nature, we don't more or less."

That's the crux of the whole approach.

Aside from everything that's on the line -- an inside track to the ACC Atlantic Division, a possible BCS title game berth and a potential Heisman invite for the winning quarterback -- Clemson is an underdog on Saturday night.

That's right. The team with a higher ranking, a win over a Top 25 opponent that's playing at home isn't favored to win.

Florida State is favored by a field goal.

"I feel like we're a team, we like to prove people wrong," Crawford said. "So, people say we're going to lose to Florida State that just puts fire on top of fire. I'm ready for it." Top Stories