The task at hand

Dabo Swinney's had plenty of experience when it comes preparing for FCS opponents with a much better opponent on the schedule a week later.

In 2009, Clemson played Coastal Carolina on Halloween. Seven days later, they beat Florida State at home, 40-24.

A year later, Clemson played Presbyterian on 9/11 before going on the road to play No. 15 Auburn. The eventual national champions won in overtime that night, 27-24.

Clemson survived a scare from Wofford in 2011 before returning the favor to No. 19 Auburn with a 38-24 victory in Death Valley.

Last September, Clemson rolled over Furman a week before their 49-37 loss to No. 4 Florida State.

Clemson beat S.C. State earlier this season before a Thursday night win at N.C. State.

Clemson [9-1] plays The Citadel on Saturday, seven days before the season finale against South Carolina [8-2]. A slip up against The Citadel in September would be bad, but a November loss to the Bulldogs would be a complete and utter disaster.

"We don't win this game we've got bigger issues than next week. That's just the way it is," Swinney said. "We've got an opportunity in front of us. This is the biggest game of the year. We're trying to get a 10th win for the third-year in a row. What a great accomplishment that would be.

"It's Senior Day. It's Military Appreciation Day. We've got a lot of things and these guys want to finish on a positive note."

Instead of a "November to remember," a loss to The Citadel would make the 2013 version a November to consign to oblivion.

"That's our focus, have the best possible finish that we can have and the best possible postseason opportunity that we can have," Swinney said. "The best way we can accomplish that is you stay focused on the task at hand. And the task at hand is The Citadel and Monday practice, having a good day today, get these guys back rolling."

This is the first season that Clemson will play an FCS opponent the week before the South Carolina game.

The Gamecocks have been doing it since 2011 with games against The Citadel and Wofford. On Saturday, South Carolina plays Coastal Carolina. Other recent pre-rivalry week games include Middle Tennessee in 2006 and Troy in 2009.

Moving forward, Swinney would prefer that kind of a schedule for Clemson -- a lower tier, non-conference opponent the week before South Carolina.

"I don't know how all of that stuff will work out. I think it's definitely a positive when you're playing a bunch of conference games," he said. "Just from our past experience, this has been a week where we're trying to win the division, clinch the division, whatever. I think it's a little different from that standpoint.

"Sometimes, you don't have any control over those things. If you had a little more control over it, you'd like to schedule it the way it is [now]." Top Stories