In a matter of two weeks, the No. 18 Eagles have gone from national title contenders to fighting for their respect and dignity.
A loss to the No. 15 Tigers and a failure to reach the ACC Championship Game would be devastating to a program that had such loftier dreams just 14 days ago.
"Whoever wins this game goes to the ACC Championship," Boston College sophomore linebacker Mike McLaughlin said. "This is what we work for in the summer, this is what we work for in the winter, this is what we've won all our previous games for.
"It all sets us up for a chance like this. As lousy as these last two weeks were, we're still in control of our destiny. If we win, we go. That's the position we want to be in, so now we just have to get it done."
First-year Eagles head coach Jeff Jagodzinski has had his hands full in trying to get his team to maintain an upbeat level of confidence after losing at home to Florida State and then suffering a bad loss at Maryland.
Even with the setbacks, he's constantly reminding them that a BCS game is still on the table.
"Everything we've been wanting to do, we have an opportunity to do it this week," Jagodzinski said. "You can't worry about what has happened in the past. You have to keep looking forward. … It's winner take all. You win, you're in. You don't, you're out. Both teams have the same thing at stake, so it will be interesting."
Like Clemson, Boston College has come very close to winning the division, but came up just short at the end. After starting out 4-0 in the conference, anything less than a division title is unacceptable for the Eagles.
"It would really sting," said junior tight end Ryan Purvis. "We've invested a lot of time into this and feel like we have what it takes to win. It would be a huge disappointment. … (The seniors) are the heart of this team, and they're leading us through it all. It's really motivating, actually. We want to win this for them, the whole team and the B.C. community."
If Boston College is to beat the Tigers for the third straight year since joining the ACC, it is going to have deal with Clemson's speed offensively and defensively. Also, the Eagles can't afford to make silly mistakes line penalties or having crucial turnovers at inopportune times.
"I think it always comes down to fundamentals," Jagodzinski said. "Anytimr there's something wrong, there's a fundamental breakdown, so we need to do better. It all comes down to blocking, tackling, throwing and catching. That's what it all comes down to – guys making plays. …
"I think one of the big things we have to do is eliminate our turnovers, and we need to create some more turnovers. That's been a big factor the last two games."
The Eagles believe they can pull it together and get their team rolling like it was through the first half of the season. They know they have no other choice but to do so.
"It's winner-take-all, so we'll treat it like a championship game," Purvis said. "The attitude in practice is intense and crisp. Everyone is really into it because this is it. It all comes down to this. I mean, if we lose, we go home. If we win, we go to Jacksonville."
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