ACC Title Hopes Still Alive?

CLEMSON - It didn't take long after Saturday's win over Boston College until the team started looking ahead to his week's game against Atlantic Division rival Florida State.

In fact, not even 15 minutes passed after Cullen Harper stepped off the field in Chestnut Hill, Mass. did the questions start about Clemson's next game against Florida State.

And why not?

With Saturday's win over Boston College, the Tigers are actually still in the midst of the Atlantic Division race, believe it or not.

"I remember going down there two years ago," Harper told CUTigers.com. "It's a loud environment but a great environment to play in. It's always been like that in Tallahassee. We are going to have our work cut out for us down there but we are looking forward to it, especially after picking up this win."

Florida State has shown tremendous improvement this year, especially on offense where there finally seems to be some organization, not to mention a growing identity for second-year coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

However the Tigers have own the 'Noles in recent years, winning four of the past five matchups, including last year's 24-18 win in Death Valley.

Clemson jumped out quickly to a 24-3 halftime lead before going in the tank in the second half. The game wasn't over until the Tigers' defense held on fourth down with FSU driving late in the fourth quarter.

"Most people don't remember it this way but that was one of our toughest games of the year," Harper said. "We got out on top of them early and then it was like they came out in the second half a completely different team and it took everything we had to hold them off.

"And now we know it's going to be even tougher this year."

Of course, if Clemson is going to any chance of sneaking into the ACC Championship game after a hugely disappointing start, it has to win all of its remaining ACC games, including Saturday's game at FSU, the next week at home against Duke and the following weekend at Virginia.

And even then the Tigers still need additional help - Wake Forest has to lose two of its three remaining conference games (Virginia, at N.C. State, Boston College) and Maryland has to lose three of its remaining four ACC games, including at Virginia Tech this Thursday, No. 19 North Carolina the next week followed by No. 22 Florida State and at Boston College.

At that point, again believe it or not, Clemson would win the ACC's Atlantic Division.

But don't tell that to interim head coach Dabo Swinney.

"I had somebody ask me about that after the game," he said. "None of it means anything unless we win games and that's our priority right now. We are getting ready to play one of the best teams in the conference at their place in Florida State and that's our only concern this week.

"None of the scenarios out there mean anything unless we take care of our own business and that's what we have to do."

Given the up and down nature of the ACC this year, anything is possible, but for Clemson to still be alive after the season it has had so far is nothing short of amazing.

But then again, it all means nothing unless the Tigers can find a way to win these three games.

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