Clemson University

Tigers control own destiny

DURHAM, N.C. -- Tommy Bowden spent his postgame press conference Saturday insisting he and his Clemson Tigers weren't keeping tabs on Atlantic Division-leading Boston College.

"We're pretty much on a week-to-week basis," Bowden said. "I've always coached that way."

Wonder if he changed his opinion later?

Boston College, holding a two-game lead over Clemson in the ACC standings, fell to Florida State late Saturday, around eight hours after the Tigers finished a 47-10 romp over Duke. The loss cut the Eagles' lead to a half-game in the ACC Atlantic, meaning BC is on top at 4-1 and Clemson and Wake Forest are tied for second at 4-2.

Coincidentally, Clemson hosts Wake Forest next week and Boston College the week after. Two wins gives Clemson the Atlantic Division title and a berth in the ACC Championship game, a spot the Tigers felt deprived of last year.

Anything could still happen, but the bottom line is the Tigers are in the driver's seat. Win, and they don't have to worry about what Boston College does.

Winning is the difficult part.

It's doubtful Clemson wants to face Wake and BC in quick succession, especially after each lost Saturday. That's the way the schedule shook out, though, and the Tigers have no choice but to play it.

They get each at home, which should be an advantage. They'll need everything they can get considering the recent series -- 2-2 against Wake in the past four years and 0-4-1 vs. BC in the past five meetings.

So the question is, which Clemson team will show up? The one that finished 2005 with four straight wins or the one that finished 2006 with a 1-4 record?

No one had any answers Saturday, which was expected. None of them knew BC was going to lose, so they were taking the stock answer of taking each game one by one.

"We know our destiny is in our hands," said Michael Hamlin. "Once we get to that, we'll worry about BC."

Clemson's last three games have been offensive showcases, the Tigers cruising past overwhelmed Central Michigan, Maryland and Duke by a combined 147-41. They needed it after spending their bye week reflecting on their last two games, a 13-3 offensively challenged loss to Georgia Tech and a 41-23 special teams meltdown against Virginia Tech.

But all that's in the past. What's in the present is a suddenly desirable location in the ACC Atlantic and opportunity hammering away at the Tigers' door.

So the key is remembering the past. Specifically, what happened last year after a 7-1 start.

And then making sure it doesn't happen again.

"We're in position, but we need some help," James Davis said. "We just got to keep everything going."