Most important game: Clemson

HD kicked off our new series looking at THE most important game of the season for each ACC team with Boston College. With all due respect to Eagles fans, I have drawn a far more difficult assignment today: picking the most important game on the schedule for Clemson.

You could make the case for three games. I chose ...

Most important game: Florida State, Oct. 19.

Why it's important: Every coach in America will tell you the No. 1 priority for any team is to win the conference championship. Clemson could beat Georgia to open the season, but what would that victory mean if the Tigers go ahead and lose to Florida State, a loss that would impact their shot at making another trip to the ACC title game? The Georgia game has gotten a lion's share of national attention because of its place on the schedule, its implications on the national title race and the possibility of matching two Top 10 teams. It is important. But Florida State is more important. Clemson lost to the Seminoles last year, and lost a chance at the ACC title. Clemson beat Florida State in 2011, and ended up winning the ACC and making a BCS game (although it was one to forget). Clemson could lose to Georgia and still make a BCS game with a win over Florida State. Clemson could lose to Georgia and still make an outside run at a national title if it can win the remainder of its games -- yes that includes Florida State. As for the third choice, South Carolina is always an important game. It grows more important with every passing year the Tigers lose to their in-state rivals. There is no question Clemson wants to win this one badly. But, again, that is a nonconference game. A loss here does not prevent Clemson from playing for an ACC title. To us, the conference games simply have more weight to them. Especially conference games against your top division rival.

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