CLEMSON -- The No. 4 Tigers can check off the second goal from their list this Saturday (3:30 p.m. ESPN) as they host the Florida State Seminoles in a game that can clinch Clemson's third consecutive ACC Atlantic Division title and secure a spot in the ACC Championship Game Dec. 2.
Even with the Seminoles struggling with a record of 3-5 overall and 3-4 in the ACC (last place), Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is expecting a battle when the two teams take the field in Death Valley.
“We're just going to go back to work. We know what's at stake this week,” Swinney said. “We'll get back to work this week. It's another huge challenge. It'll be a championship on the line for us. For Florida State, they're trying to finish strong. We'll get all they've got.”
Tigers heavy favorites
The Tigers opened as 19-point favorites against the Seminoles before quickly dropping to 18 points. The 18 points are the largest the Tigers have ever been favored in the series and the largest either team has been favored in the game since 2000, when the Seminoles were 18.5-point favorites over the Tigers.
Swinney understood that without a victory in Saturday’s game against the Wolfpack, the Tigers' hopes for accomplishing two of their season goals -- win the division and win the conference -- would be unattainable.
That is why he challenged not the players Friday night before the game but the coaches to do whatever it took to get the ball in the hands of the Tigers’ best players.
“The one thing I challenged our coaches and the thing I told our team last night is that I promised them we weren't going to walk out of that field and not put the ball in their hands. The game is about the players and I wanted to make sure that we gave our players the opportunity to win the game. I'm really proud of our coaches because I thought offensively, especially, that we did that. That was a huge play."
Following Clemson’s 38-31 victory over No. 20 N.C. State Saturday, the Tigers jumped in the Associated Press poll (previously No. 6) and the coaches' poll (previously No. 5) to No. 4 in both.
The Associated Press top 5: Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Clemson and Oklahoma.
The coaches' poll top 5: Alabama, Georgia, Wisconsin, Clemson and Notre Dame.
The Tigers entered the first College Football Playoff rankings at No. 4 last week. The new College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN).
The Tigers did not sustain any new injuries in the game against the Wolfpack, however Swinney did update the status of safety Tanner Muse -- who had been playing with a large cast on his hand after suffering a broken bone in the Georgia Tech game -- and cornerbacks Marcus Edmond and Mark Fields, both of whom were unavailable in Saturday’s game.
"(Tanner Muse) had a screw put in today. He will have the same type of club on but a smaller brace for the Citadel game,” Swinney said. "I don't know (about Edmond and Fields) until (head trainer) Danny Poole assesses them in the morning. We'd love to have them back. We'll be ready to go either way."