CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson's Tommy Bowden has upped his expectations as his Tigers have upped their play.
Once happy just to beat last year's 3-8 mark, Bowden now talks about having his choice of bowls when Clemson travels to No. 13 Georgia Tech this week.
"When you win three, you want four. When you get four, you want five. It's the natural progression of things," Bowden said Tuesday. "Yeah, we want six now. Instead of them telling you which bowl you're going to, you want a selection."
Clemson (5-4, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which was picked to finish sixth in the ACC in August after going 1-7 in the league last year before Bowden came on board. Now, the Tigers can wrap up second place by beating the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 4-2).
Bowden says new coaches usually don't have much on their minds except developing their style and tempo -- unless they start winning.
"Once you get in the top 25, you want in the top 10, then you want a bowl, then you want one on New Year's Day," Bowden said. "The drives, and ambitions for me and this team are no different."
If Clemson can follow a victory this week with another against South Carolina on Nov. 20, the Tigers would be candidates for the Gator Bowl, which has the second pick for ACC teams.
Rick Catlett of the Gator Bowl said Clemson has played its way into being considered highly for the Jan. 1 game at Jacksonville, Fla.
"That's what we're pushing for now," quarterback Brandon Streeter said.
One win would likely be enough to bring Clemson a bid for Atlanta's Peach Bowl. The Tigers went to Georgia Dome game after the 1993, 1996 and 1997 seasons.
When a Clemson delegation flew to New Orleans to meet with Bowden last fall, one member of the delegation said he thought the Tigers could win eight games this year.
Bowden said he looked at Clemson athletic director Bobby Robinson and told him to hire that person because "I don't see why you're wasting your time with me."
The team struggled to find itself early but has come together in the past month. The Tigers' only loss in four games since Oct. 16 has been to No. 1 Florida State, 17-14.
"We knew we could be as good as we wanted to be," said defensive tackle Jason Holloman. "The last few weeks we've show that."
No ACC team has ever jumped from last to second in one year's time. "We're using that as motivation," Holloman said. "It's up to us."
Bowden is gaining a reputation for restoring struggling programs. Tulane was 4-18 the two seasons before he arrived and 19-4 his two years there.
But Bowden says he, his staff and players have worked hard for this chance and "I hope the players aren't satisfied. I don't think they are."
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