Tigers try to retain focus

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CLEMSON, S.C. --- Clemson's Dabo Swinney knows his players will be jacked up for perhaps the biggest game of his short time with the Tigers.

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Dabo Swinney: Clemson coach has reminded his players not to get distracted by the hype leading up to Saturday's game.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Dabo Swinney: Clemson coach has reminded his players not to get distracted by the hype leading up to Saturday's game.

Swinney also knows the ESPN cameras, the rare night start at Death Valley or the fans' excitement won't make a bit of difference against Florida State.

"The most excited team isn't going to win," Swinney said Tuesday. "The most prepared team is going to win."

Few teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference have been as prepared as the Tigers (5-3, 3-2) the past few games.

After opening 2-3, Clemson has rebounded to win three consecutive games and gain a measure of control in the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Tigers can stay solidly in front with a win over the Seminoles (4-4), who have won two in a row after starting 0-3 in league play.

"None of us are going to sit here and say we're not thinking about the ACC championship and the Orange Bowl," Clemson tight end Michael Palmer said. "Yeah, we understand that that's within our grasp.

"But we've got to take care of business before we get there," Palmer continued.

That hasn't been the easiest task for the Tigers the last few years. Clemson entered 2008 with a top-10 ranking and championship expectations. However, back-to-back defeats to Maryland and Wake Forest proved too much for the Tigers and longtime coach Tommy Bowden to overcome. Bowden walked off in midseason and Swinney was brought in as coach.

This year, impressive victories over then-Atlantic Division leader Wake Forest (38-3) and at Miami (40-37 in overtime) have Tigers fans counting on the title game.

Swinney has reminded his players not to get caught up in the pre-game hype of what might be.

"It's the next game, focus on us, our job," Swinney said. "That's what I mean about not getting caught up in the hype and fall into those traps."


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