The college football season may still be weeks away, but Telegraph reporter Coley Harvey is here to start getting you ready. As teams across the ACC prepare for the ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C. on July 25-26, they can’t help but turn their attention toward the fall. With the conference as competitive as it has ever been, the ACC schedule boasts several key matchups this year that could help determine its eventual champion. Here is game No. 10 on our countdown:
No. 8 — Clemson at Florida State
Date: Nov. 13
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Might two-sport Clemson star Kyle Parker return to lead the Tigers this season? Clemson's success could hinge on his comeback. Photo Credit: FanHouse/McClatchy/ Associated Press
Last meeting: Former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller put on a show the last time these intra-division foes met, sparking a 40-24 Clemson rout. Sprinting to a 165-yard rushing performance, Spiller scored once on the ground and added another touchdown that came on the receiving end of a 58-yard pass from Kyle Parker. Spiller was on such a high that following his lone rushing touchdown, he playfully flashed a Heisman pose in the end zone, depicting his hopes for securing the trophy. He would not win the Heisman, but would later lead the Tigers to the ACC championship game.
Recent history: Florida State owns the overall series with a 15-7 all-time record over Clemson, but in recent years, it has been the Tigers who have flexed the most muscle. Clemson has won the last four games in the matchup, including five of the last six.
What’s at stake: Occurring with just three weeks remaining on both teams’ schedules, this contest has all the makings of a ripe Atlantic Division showdown, and should have a major impact on the race toward the ACC title game. Despite the departure of coaching legend Bobby Bowden this offseason, the Seminoles are favored to have a smooth transition under new head coach Jimbo Fisher, and some expect them to compete for the conference championship in Charlotte, N.C. this December. With the team likely fully entrenched in Fisher’s philosophy by mid-November, there is no reason to believe otherwise. While 2010, in some respects, could be classified as a transitory year for Clemson, the reigning Atlantic division winner has every reason to believe that it can repeat. This game could be the Tigers’ validation.
Subplots: Perhaps the biggest offseason subplots for the Tigers that most assuredly could affect how the season — and this game — progresses, revolve around Spiller and Parker. For starters, Spiller saw his career at Clemson come to an end last season before being drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. While his departure was expected, one has to believe it will be tough replacing a player who: left a firm imprint on the school record books, was named conference player of the year, was a playmaking threat in the rushing, receiving and return games, and who tallied more than 3,500 rushing yards in his career. New starter Andre Ellington is good, but can he be Spiller? Then, at quarterback, the Tigers are still unsure about the status of Parker, a two-sport athlete who was drafted by major league baseball’s Colorado Rockies last month. He has yet to sign, but as a first-round pick, it would be hard to see him turn down the money and come back to school. If he does return to Clemson, though, it should make for an electric air show Nov. 13 between he and Florida State signal-caller Christian Ponder.