Surg­ing Clemson faces po­ten­tial speed bumps

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Pete Ia­co­belli AP Sports Writer

North Carolina State is seek­ing to turn the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence from a run­away into a free-for-all this sea­son.

Half­way through the sea­son, third-ranked Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) is a heavy fa­vorite to win its sec­ond straight ACC ti­tle and earn an­other berth in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­offs.

But the Tigers’ path is shrouded with po­ten­tial speed bumps — start­ing with North Carolina State (4-1, 1-0) on Satur­day.

• Florida State has Oct. 29 cir­cled on its cal­en­dar; that’s when the No. 14 Semi­noles host the Tigers in Tallahassee. Clemson is just 1-11 in its past 12 vis­its to Florida State.

• ACC new­com­ers Syra­cuse and Pitts­burgh bring feisty at­ti­tudes in seek­ing their first vic­to­ries at Death Val­ley next month.

• Clemson wraps up its sea­son at Wake For­est, which has been a house of hor­rors and crusher of Tiger dreams through the years.

The Tigers are say­ing all the right things about the pos­si­ble pit­falls.

“It’s a long sea­son and a lot of foot­ball left,” Tigers quar­ter­back Deshaun Watson said.

Clemson seized con­trol of the ACC two weeks ago with its dra­matic, 42-36 win against Louisville and Heis­man Tro­phy fa­vorite La­mar Jack­son.

Still, col­lege foot­ball his­tory is filled with sure bets that went bust in some of the un­like­li­est ways.

Semi­noles coach Jimbo Fisher, his team’s ACC chances last year cut down on an un­likely kick-six TD by strug­gling Ge­or­gia Tech , isn’t aban­don­ing hope of a ti­tle run by his two-loss team.

Fisher be­lieves even the best teams in the con­fer­ence must scratch and claw for vic­tory most weeks.

“That’s what the ACC has be­come,” the coach said.

Nearly ev­ery­one has a chance.

In the At­lantic Divi­sion, Wake For­est and Louisville are one-loss ACC teams hop­ing for a Clemson to get up­set.

In the Coastal, once a mish-mosh of mid­dling teams — at this point two years ago all seven teams in the divi­sion looked like they could fin­ish 4-4 — peren­nial pow­ers Mi­ami and Vir­ginia Tech are scrap­ping for the top.

The 17th-ranked Hok­ies (4-1, 2-0) and new coach Justin Fuente won a show­down game at North Carolina last week and will try and keep things go­ing at Syra­cuse this week.


Clemson quar­ter­back Nick Schuessler throws a pass dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Tigers’ 56-10 win over Bos­ton Col­lege at Alumni Sta­dium in Bos­ton on Fri­day.

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