Chase for the Title

CLEMSON – The quest to end 15 seasons of frustration in chasing the ACC Championship begins at noon, Saturday, at Memorial Stadium as the No. 20 Clemson football team hosts Wake Forest.

Since the last ACC title won by the Tigers in 1991, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have either won or shared the conference crown.

The Demon Deacons (6-3, 4-2 ACC) and Clemson (7-2, 4-2 ACC) are each in the hunt for an Atlantic Division title. The loser be all but out of the race for a title and will join the likes of Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina, Duke, Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech in the "wait ‘til next year" campaign.

However, a win in each of the next two weeks by the Tigers would go a long way toward erasing from the minds of fans the average play of Clemson during that span.

Both games are at home and the Tigers (7-2, 4-2 ACC) couldn't have asked for a better scenario. Whether they win the Atlantic Division or not is entirely up to them. They don't need help from anybody else, which is what every coach and player hopes for.

"The program's identity is mediocrity, 8-5, 9-4," center Thomas Austin said. "It's something we don't want to happen again. We're 7-2 and have two more (ACC) games left. We control our destiny."

If Clemson loses, right or wrong, the perception is that the Tigers can't finish the job when given a golden chance.

"We haven't won a championship. Why not?" Austin said. "Until we prove ourselves and prove it to other people, we will be (known as a choking team)."

As a result of Florida State's win at Boston College Saturday night, the entire spirits of the Clemson team have been lifted. Each player walks down hallways, and to and from the practice field, with a sense purpose.

It is blatantly obvious.

"It's the ACC champs coming to your house to play, and it'll determine how the season goes," said star tailback C.J. Spiller. "It's a sellout game, and guys know it's the last chance as a team to go out and try and win (a title). We know what's at stake, and we'll be focused."

Spiller said he doesn't foresee a repeat of last year when the team went into a tailspin from which it never recovered. This team, he says, has character and heart.

"Guys never started pointing fingers at each other, and you sensed that last year," Spiller said. "This year's team is different. We're going to keep fighting until the end, and it's all about chemistry and guys hanging out with each other. Guys don't worry about what people are saying about our team."

Spiller also said there's only one way he finally give up his dream this year of getting an ACC title.

"We know we have doubters, but we never stopped believing we could go to the championship game," he said. "We always believed I told James (Davis) that when they officially tell us we can't go, that's when I'll stop believing." Top Stories