CLEMSON, S.C. – Get ready for the first College Football Playoff game, when No. 5 Florida State and No. 3 Clemson meet on Saturday.
While the four-team chase for the BCS title doesn’t start until 2014, the playoffs will probably look and feel very much like Saturday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference showdown between the Seminoles (5-0) and Tigers (6-0) in a jam-packed stadium. ESPN College GameDay will be on campus, with a track to the national title game at stake.
There will even be at least one playoff selection committee member on hand: Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich.
Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd and Florida State’s Jameis Winston say their teams are keeping the frenzied atmosphere in perspective as they get ready for the ACC’s first matchup of top-five teams since 2005.
“We’re all about our goals,” said Boyd, who leads the ACC with 297 yards passing a game. “The next goal for us is win the division. This sets the line for us to do that. The goal after that is to win the conference. This sets the line to do that, too.”
Boyd became the school’s all-time passing yardage leader with his 14th career 300-yard game in a 24-14 victory over Boston College last week. Boyd is 164 yards shy of joining ex-North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers and former Duke passer Thad Lewis as the only ACC players to reach 10,000 yards passing.
Winston, a redshirt freshman, has elevated himself alongside Boyd in Heisman Trophy talk with his play so far. Winston has thrown two more TD passes than Boyd (17 to 15) in one less game. He’s also shown poise likely to serve him well when the Death Valley crowd turns the volume up to 11.
“They have outstanding players. They have a great offense,” Winston said. “They have a very athletic defense, a great defense we’re going to have to prepare well for.”
Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner (above) had a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a touchdown opening a 28-6 run in the Seminoles’ 49-37 victory last September.