Florida State, Clemson both thinking national title

ASSOCIATED PRESS Terry Baggett ran for 304 yards against Eastern Michigan to set an Army single-game rushing record.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Terry Baggett ran for 304 yards against Eastern Michigan to set an Army single-game rushing record.
Posted: October 18, 2013

SO WHEN WAS the last time top-five ACC teams met, other than say maybe Duke-North Carolina in mid-February?

Well, on Saturday night third-ranked Florida State (5-0, 3-0) is at No. 3 Clemson (6-0, 4-0). Both are thinking national title. Only one can even get to the conference final. There's always a chance that even an unbeaten ACC champion might not get to the BCS final. But the survivor at least gets to keep thinking. The loser mainly gets to compete for Miss Congeniality the rest of the way.

FSU went to the first three BCS title games, losing twice. No ACC team has made it that far since. The conference is 3-13 in BCS bowls. FSU has two of those wins, including last New Year's over Northern Illinois, which broke its 12-year, four-game BCS losing streak. Clemson's lone BCS appearance was a 70-33 loss to West Virginia 2 years ago. Only once has the ACC put more than one team into the BCS equation. That was also 2 years ago, when two-loss Virginia Tech got an at-large spot.

Clemson, which opened with a home win over Georgia, still would have to go to South Carolina, which has won the last four in that series, on Nov. 30. And deal with either Miami (5-0, 1-0) or Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0) a week later in Charlotte. FSU hosts Miami in another 2 weeks and is at Florida (4-2) the same day as Clemson-SC. And the Seminoles might have to play the U, which they've beaten three straight, again in your ACC finale.

Last year FSU climbed out of a 14-point hole in the closing 25 minutes to get past Clemson at home, 49-37. It hasn't beaten the Tigers back-to-back since taking 11 in a row from 1991-2002. It hasn't won in Death Valley in 12 years. The Seminoles haven't won their first six since going 12-0 in 1999. They've been 5-0 four times since, including last year.

Clemson got to 8-0 in 2011, then lost four of its last six. Both quarterbacks, Tajh Boyd and freshman Jameis Winston, could be Heisman Trophy factors. Especially the survivor.

By the way, the last time this happened in the ACC was Nov. 5, 2005, when No. 3 Virginia Tech (8-0) hosted No. 5 Miami (6-1). UM won, 27-7. Tech would finish seventh, at 11-2. The Hurricanes went 9-3 and ended up 17. Each lost to 8-5 FSU.

Last season the first top-five matchup didn't occur until early November (Alabama at LSU). There would be three others: in the SEC final, the BCS final and the Fiesta Bowl (Oregon-Kansas State).

Trivial Pursuit

Junior Terry Baggett just set the Army rushing record with 304 yards against Eastern Michigan. Who did he surpass? Hint: It happened in the last 2 decades. See Anwser Man.

Defining stretch

UCLA, with second-year coach Jim Mora, has also yet to lose. It has won at Utah, which just beat Stanford, and Nebraska, which just made its first road trip and has beaten teams that are a combined 12-15.

Now the Bruins are at Stanford, which has beaten them five straight. Then they go to Oregon, where they haven't won since 2004.

UCLA has been to one BCS bowl. That was the Rose, following the 1998 season, after a closing four-point loss at Miami (in a game that was postponed from late September because of Hurricanes Georges) kept it out of the national-title tilt.

The No. 9 Bruins haven't been ranked this high since 2001, when they got to 4 in late October. Then they lost to Stanford and dropped their next three after that.

AAC me up * 

Louisville, which hosts Central Florida tomorrow, has held its last three opponents (Florida International, Temple, Rutgers) to 63 yards rushing.

* South Florida is 2-0 in the conference without having scored an offensive touchdown in those games.

* Houston, which has scored in 27 straight quarters going back to last season, has forced at least two turnovers in 13 consecutive games.

Here and there * 

For the first time in 12 years, Southern Cal and Notre Dame both have multiple losses going into their biennial meeting in South Bend. In 2001, USC, with first-year coach Pete Carroll, was 2-4 and the Fighting Irish 2-3 in their last season under Bob Davie. ND won, 27-16.

* Georgia, after sending nine defensive players to the NFL, has one interception. The Dawgs have used 10 true freshman on that side of the ball. Seven have started.

* Miami and Al Golden, in the top 10 for the first time in 4 years, is at North Carolina (1-4) tonight. The Hurricanes are trying to get to 6-0 for the first time since 2004, their first season in the ACC.

Answer Man

Michael Wallace had 269 in a 59-52 double-overtime win over Louisville in 1999.

Spotlight on: First BCS Standings

 They’re back, starting Sunday. For the last go-round. From 2014 on whenever there’s a problem with the new four-team playoff format the blame will have to get placed elsewhere.

I wish the 13-member selection committee that was officially announced yesterday the best of luck.

 Whatever its flaws, real or perceived, the BCS did what it was set up to do: put two teams into a title game, which didn’t happen in 1991, ’94 or ’97 under other systems.

 And for the most part over the last 15 years it’s matched the “right” pair. Obviously there were controversies along the way, though not so many recently. It can’t always be as simple as USC-Texas in 2005.

 But the inclusion of two more teams and the switch from polls/computer rankings to a jury won’t solve all the issues. It might even create new ones.

 This isn’t March Madness, where the committee basically has to choose between giving the eighth team from the Big Ten or the fifth from the Atlantic 10 that 36th at-large bid.

 Last year, after Alabama and Notre Dame, the decision would’ve come down to Florida, Oregon (both with a loss), Georgia and Stanford (two apiece), presuming one-loss Kansas State had been left out.

 Would Georgia have gotten the nod for beating Florida to get to the SEC final, where it came within 5 yards of beating Bama?

 Or UF on the basis of its better record and higher ranking? Likewise, Stanford beat Oregon and won the Pac-12 but was lower in the polls.

 Resolve that to everyone’s satisfaction.


Email: kernm@phillynews.com

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