Tigers Not Overlooking Defending Champs

CLEMSON – When the final seconds ticked down in Florida State's upset win at Boston College late Saturday, No. 20 Clemson was given a second life for capturing the Atlantic Division.

But James Davis knows the Tigers are still a ways from realizing their goals of championships.

Due to the loss by the Eagles, all Clemson has to do is win its next two home games against Wake Forest and Boston College and the Tigers will be playing in Jacksonville, Fla., for the league title.

And while most are looking toward the showdown with the Eagles, that game would be almost meaningless should that pesky Wake Forest team win in Death Valley.

"Right now, we're definitely in the driver's seat as far as going to the ACC (championship)," Davis said. "We've still got to win games. We've got to beat Wake Forest. It's not set up for us to go (to Jacksonville). We've still got to go win games."

Oddly enough, several of the questions fielded by the star running back Monday morning centered around "not overlooking" the Demon Deacons, who are tied with Clemson in the ACC with a 4-2 record.

How often is "not overlooking" the defending league champ discussed. Not very much, but fans and media still look at Wake Forest as a team not comprised of NFL talent and more or less a fluke.

Davis said what transpired last year in Winston-Salem, where the Demon Deacons jumped to a big lead can't happen again, or otherwise the Tigers will be in deep trouble.

"I don't think we can get down like that against this team come this year," he said. "Wake Forest is a good team and they can end the game real fast."

But Davis doesn't see the likelihood of Wake Forest jumping to a big lead very good. He believes the offense of the Tigers can put up some pretty spectacular numbers, too, should the Demon Deacons score often.

"I just think this year we have a different team and a lot of guys are capable of making plays in comparison to last year," he said. "We've got a lot of guys right now who's going to step up to the challenge of making plays. Everybody knows what's at stake. We've got to win this game."

Davis also thinks the fact that Saturday's meeting is the first time a game at Memorial Stadium between these two teams is sold out will help Clemson twofold.

"Just with this team coming in here and it being sold out, I think it boosts our confidence up to play harder," he said. "It just shows everybody that this is a big game, so our team will play like it's a big game."

It also seems strange to be talking about playing for the ACC title when just a month ago, nearly all of Tiger Nation was in complete meltdown after back-to-back loses and the embarrassing whipping it took from Virginia Tech.

Davis said he never lost hope.

"It's hard to go undefeated in the ACC, so I figured some teams would lose and we'd still have a chance," he said. "But after three or four losses, that probably hurts you. But with two losses right now, things look good for us."

And now that the reality of playing for the championship is in sight, Davis wants to make sure the Tigers have their vision centered squarely on Wake Forest and not what lies ahead in two weeks.

"From the outside, when everybody seen Florida State win in Boston College, everybody started thinking, ‘Ok, now we have a chance,' " he said. "Everybody is looking at Boston College. But I think everybody on the team knows we have to beat Wake Forest if we want to get to the (championship game). I think Boston College will be just like a championship game when it's time to play them, but we've got to beat Wake Forest first."

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