CLEMSON — It’s an orange pants game for the Clemson Tigers.
In a day and age when teams change uniforms and combinations with regularity, the Clemson Tigers are a throwback to a simpler time. They wear two colors — orange and white (and purple once a year on Military Appreciation Day).
The Tigers are going to wear their orange tops at home with white pants, and their white tops on the road with white pants — until something special happens.
Then it all changes.
"It means we're playing for a championship," quarterback Kelly Bryant said. "It's championship time, championship phase, part of our journey. We're bringing the orange pants out because it's championship time.
"It's special because you don't just get to wear those. We're playing for some hardware and like I said, it's part of that championship phase."
Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott echoed the words of the quarterback.
“Coach Swinney has changed the mindset. The tradition of the uniform, when we put on the orange pants, we’re playing for something … specifically hardware.”
This week, the Tigers will don their orange pants for the first time this season as they take on the Florida State Seminoles Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPN) in a game that can clinch the ACC Atlantic Division Championship.
For Bryant, the fact that the division championship has come down to the Tigers needing to beat the Seminoles — who have been eliminated from the division race — is something that everyone who plays in this rivalry dreams about.
"It's Clemson/Florida State," Bryant said. "It's a rivalry with everybody on both sides. Whether you're a Clemson or a Florida State fan, this is a game that a lot of people look at and also a game where we can clinch the division.
"It's going to be an environment where we're at home. It's good we get to play in front of our fans and have the opportunity to clinch it, but it's going to be a rivalry game. Like I said, they are going to bring it despite whatever their record is. It's going to be a hard-fought game."
If the Tigers are going to emerge from Saturday’s game once again the Atlantic Division champions, Bryant understands that there are some things that he will have to do better than he did in the last game — namely throwing the ball downfield.
In last Saturday’s 38-31 victory over the N.C. State Wolfpack, Bryant missed three different receivers for what would have been walk-in touchdowns. In fact, Bryant was 0-for-10 on passes thrown more than 15 yards downfield — the most attempts by a quarterback without a completion in a game by a Power 5 quarterback this season.
"Early on, the struggles were kind of frustrating," Bryant said. "But it was just the mentality to move on from it. The one-play mentality. I knew it was going to be a long game but just tried not to let it linger in my mind and move on to the next play."
"During the game just, a few times I threw the ball high. My elbow was high and I wasn't really coming through on all the throws. It was just little mechanical things."
Florida State is not the defensive juggernaut that everyone in the nation expected the Seminoles to be when the 2017 season began.
The Seminoles rank seventh in the ACC in scoring defense (24.3 points per game allowed), 11th in the league in sacks (14), seventh in pass defense (204.8 yards per game allowed) and ninth in rushing defense (allowing 157 yards per game on the ground).
Even as bad as those numbers are for the Seminoles this season, Clemson understands that the Seminoles are capable.
“Obviously, there's some evidence on film when you see them playing earlier in the season that this is one of the top defenses athletically in the country. So our guys know that when Florida State shows up, we're going to get their best effort,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said.
"Defensively when you look at them, they're as talented as anybody that we're going to play all season--especially on that defensive line with the rush ends that they've got in Josh Sweat and Brian Burns, and then I've seen at least six interior d-tackles and (safety) Derwin James is back,” Elliott said. “Obviously I know that any time you're having a situation like what they're having on offense it's going to take its toll. But I expect that these guys are going to come in and play their tails off against us, because it's Clemson-Florida State.”
Citadel at 12:20 p.m.
The ACC announced that the Tigers’ final home game of the season against The Citadel will kick off at 12:20 p.m. Nov. 18 and be televised on The ACC Network.
Two Tigers honored
Two Clemson players were honored for their play against the N.C. State Wolfpack last Saturday. Left tackle Mitch Hyatt and defensive end Clelin Ferrell were named ACC Players of the Week at their respective positions.
The repeat selection as ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, Hyatt graded 93 percent for 65 plays and had five knockdown blocks.
Ferrell had a career-high 12 tackles, including nine first hits and three assists.