|Bowden: No. 21 Tigers won't let BC loss affect rivalry game|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 06:29|
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -If this were any other week, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden would worry his 21st-ranked Tigers might not find a reason to keep going after their deflating loss to Boston College last Saturday.|
But with South Carolina ahead, Bowden sees little need for motivational ploys.
``The fact that it's a rival, I think, elevates your intensity and energy level a little bit higher,'' he said Tuesday.
Clemson needs all the energy it can muster after last week.
The Tigers (8-3) fell to No. 15 Boston College 20-17 in a dramatic showdown for a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
Clemson rallied to a 17-13 lead with less than six minutes to play on Cullen Harper's leaping TD run. Boston College star Matt Ryan answered with a scoring drive of his own, connected on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Rich Gunnell with 1:46 to go.
Harper pushed the Tigers back once more and looked to win it with a perfectly thrown ball to Aaron Kelly. But Clemson's single-season record holder with 11 touchdown grabs this year let the ball go through his fingers near the goal line. A desperation 54-yard field goal try by Mark Buchholz fell short.
Their conference title goal gone, safety Michael Hamlin thinks the worn-out Tigers have found a new achievement to drive them this week.
``We haven't won 10 games around here in a while,'' Hamlin said. ``We think we can still do that.''
Hamlin acknowledged that the Tigers were emotionally drained after the BC loss. However, once they returned to the practice field, they quickly got their minds on South Carolina.
``It's going to be difficult at times, but we have to focus on what's ahead,'' Hamlin said.
Bowden can't predict Saturday's outcome, although he's won six of his eight meetings against South Carolina. He will guarantee his team's effort, which he said has barely waned through the long season.
``The biggest thing I like about this team, I think every time we pretty much showed up to play,'' Bowden said. ``When the ball fell short on the field goal and there were double zeros on the clock, I think our players left everything on the field. I think they pretty much have every game.''
They haven't always won, but the effort's been there, Bowden said. That's in contrast, some might argue, to a year ago when Clemson opened 7-1 and lost four of its final five games.
The South Carolina game a year ago was the Tigers' season in microcosm. Clemson stopped coach Steve Spurrier's fourth down try in South Carolina territory early in the third quarter. Soon after, Tiger star C.J. Spiller increased the lead to 28-14 with his second TD of the game.
But Clemson's defense could not stop the Gamecocks, who drove for 17 unanswered points in the 31-28 victory that left Bowden and the Tigers wondering what went wrong.
Bowden said Tuesday he wasn't surprised by South Carolina's comeback, not with Spurrier directing the attack. ``There's never a comfort zone'' with Spurrier, no matter how big the lead, Bowden said.
Bowden won't mention last year's result, assured the players well remember their Death Valley collapse.
Although South Carolina's coach has been complimentary of Clemson's program this season and empathized with the Boston College defeat, some Tigers haven't forgotten a few of the ball coach's barbs.
Clemson center Thomas Austin last week spoke about Spurrier's preseason comments - ``We thought we did something big beating Clemson, then Kentucky beat them also'' - that put down the Tigers and Kentucky.
``Stuff like that will fire you up a little bit and kind of keeps your focus,'' Austin said.
50% Bonus for New Players
Are You Ready for Hoops?
Get Your Message In Front of
Thousands of Sports Fans Now
Live Odds, Scores, Injuries
And More - 14 Day Free Trial!
Easiest Time to Play is Now!
Nearly 66% Lifetime