CLEMSON, S.C. — After two straight weeks of playing nationally ranked teams, No. 5 Clemson heads to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to play a Boston College team that is not ranked and that they are expected to beat by more than three touchdowns.
With the Tigers playing at Florida State next week, could this be a perfect time for BC to sneak up on them and win the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy for the first time in 12 years.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney feels his team is taking BC very seriously and they will be up for any challenge that comes their way this Saturday night at Alumni Stadium.
Following the Tigers’ win over then No. 10 NC State, Swinney said his team won the game during practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday by the way the practiced.
“They saw the results of practicing the right way,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “They practiced really well last week, and it has carried over right into this week. We have had an excellent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Guys really have a good sense of urgency to them and it has been very businesslike.”
When it comes to Boston College, the Tigers should not be businesslike. The Eagles (2-3, 1-2 ACC) have played Clemson as tough as anyone the last two years.
In 2020, Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei got his first career start in this game, as he filled in for Trevor Lawrence who could not play after testing positive for COVID. The Eagles jumped out to 28-10 lead late in the second quarter, but Uiagalelei led the Tigers (5-0, 3-0 ACC) to the greatest come-from-behind win in Memorial Stadium history.
The then true freshman completed 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for another score in a 34-28 victory.
Last year, with the Tigers clinging to a 19-13 lead, they needed a fumble snap by BC quarterback Dennis Grosel, with 2:14 to play, to escape Death Valley with a win.
And though Clemson is coming off back-to-back emotional wins over Wake Forest and NC State the last two weeks, Swinney knows his team has to be ready for a BC team that is starting to play with some confidence after earning a dramatic, 34-33, win over Louisville last week.
“As I say all the time, you just don’t show up on game day and get ready to play. This is when you win games, having the right mindset and the right focus and the right mentality when you walk out on to the practice field,” Swinney said. “You have to get the details down. The game is about details, as I said, it is about precision in what you do. For us to get better that is what has to happen for us.
“So, I think they grew up last week in certain areas. We got a bunch of these guys that know how to practice, and they have been practicing the right way from Day 1, but we just got some young guys, some immature guys, some guys that can easily get distracted and all of sudden they think there is an easier way and there is not.”
Swinney warned those younger players that it could come back to bite them if they were not ready when their number was called upon, and he was right. Wake Forest exposed Clemson’s young cornerbacks, who were having to play due to so many veterans being out.
“You can tell them, but, like I said, that was probably the best part of the Wake Forest game,” Swinney said. “Sometimes, you have to lose a game, but we did not lose the game. But some of these guys, you tell them the stove is hot, and they touch it anyway.
“We were fortunate that we were able to learn from that through a win. So, I thought it was a big win last week, and, again, their attention to detail in some areas has really improved these last couple of weeks of practice.”
Clemson and BC will kick off at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised by ABC.