Just how important are Clemson’s and Florida State’s games against their in-state rivals Saturday?

Now that I have little time to blog there are a couple of huge games Saturday for Clemson and Florida State. I posted the ACCDN’s preview the other day for them… , but here’s my thoughts on the game, not from a matchup standpoint, but from the perspective of how important these games are for the two programs.

Let’s not kid ourselves the ACC isn’t very good this year beyond Clemson and Florida State, and neither team has a signature OOC win. The Tigers did beat Auburn early in the year which was a good win at the at the time, but considering Auburn might be an underdog to Kentucky and Colorado today, they might be one of the 5 worst BCS conference teams in America. That win doesn’t have much credibility now.

This is it for Clemson and Florida State. Here’s their chance against quality SEC opponents South Carolina and Florida in their home stadiums. In 1 game Clemson and FSU can provide instant validation for seasons that have been good, but can’t be considered great without winning.

Earlier in the week Dabo Swinney tried to downplay the result, and that’s what he should probably do as a head coach. As a head coach he probably doesn’t want to give the appearance of too much emphasis on one game, but the rest of us know a loss sends Clemson to the Chick-Fil-A bowl against the SEC’s 5th best team. A win there and a 11-2 season is nice, but losing Saturday would cement Clemson as clearly behind their biggest rival. With a BCS at large appearance close at hand, this is a must win.

For Florida State they are 1 point from being the national title hunt. The problem is when you lose to a 5 loss team like NC State, you don’t get many chances to work yourself back into national title chase, and your team’s gaudy record is questioned all year. This is a Florida team that beat LSU, Texas A&M, and crushed South Carolina. Defensively it is by far the best team the Noles have faced.

Like Clemson if they lose a nice season is still possible. There’s an Orange Bowl and ACC Title still at stake, which would make for a good season, but still would leave question marks. Playing in the ACC especially this year provides solid teams the opportunity for alot of wins, but when the time comes to play a quality opponent that’s the chance to prove yourself on the national stage.

If Clemson and Florida State are really ready to be elite top 10, national title contending programs, in the future it starts tomorrow.

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