CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If Clemson fans are still hung over from the third straight loss to South Carolina, there is no sign of it here outside Bank of America Stadium. There are Hokies here, of course -- there are always Hokies -- but the Tigers' fans had the advantage of knowing early that their team had clinched the Atlantic Division, and school and conference officials have said that the majority of tickets sold have gone to Clemson fans.
And that's exactly how it looks outside the stadium.
Tailgates for both teams have spread out for blocks on every side of the stadium. Back roads, dirt roads, dead ends -- you name it, ACC fans have found it. I covered this game when it was held in Jacksonville, Fla., and I can't even begin to tell you how much better this venue is, and how the game has grown even in the short time it has moved to Charlotte. This is the second season a sellout is expected, and the weather is even better than it was last year, when it began sleeting before the game. There is one event after another surrounding the stadium, a live concert, radio tents set up, VIP tents. It's almost impossible to walk around without bumping into somebody.
Speaking of which, two old friends bumped into each other on the field during pregame warm-ups. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas -- both natives of Virginia -- shared a quick hug and a few words before Thomas put his headphones back on and ran off to join the Hokies and throw the ball around a bit. Boyd and Thomas have kept in touch a bit throughout the season. Both quarterbacks have gone in different directions since Clemson won 23-3 in October, and they'll be a focus again tonight.
Nationally, this game has lost some of its luster because of how Clemson finished its season, losing three of the last four, but you'd never know it by walking around Bank of America Stadium. Charlotte is hosting one big party here. If the actual game lives up to the pregame festivities, ACC fans should be entertained tonight.