Print and Go Back ESPN.com: ACC [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason report: Clemson

By David M. Hale

The season began with Clemson as the heavy favorite in the ACC, and the Tigers have done little to dampen that enthusiasm in the weeks since.

Tajh Boyd and the Tigers struck the first big blow for the ACC in Week 1, knocking off Georgia in a marquee non-conference matchup. Since then, Boyd has only bolstered his Heisman credentials, leading the ACC in passing yards and helping the Tigers to average 40 points per game. Meanwhile, Clemson's defense has proven to be one of the most fearsome in the country. The Tigers lead the nation in sacks per game (4.0) and tackles for a loss (61).

The 6-0 start hasn't entirely been easy. Georgia pushed Clemson in the opener, NC State hung tough when conference play began, and just last week, Boston College nearly pulled off a staggering upset in Death Valley before the Tigers rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. That's how it has been all year. When Clemson has needed a big play, it has gotten one.

Of course, that was all prelude to what's on tap this week, as Clemson hosts Florida State in a game that figures to decide the division. The Tigers haven't lost to FSU at home in 12 years, and Boyd and the defense will be looking for a little redemption after falling in Tallahassee last season.

Offensive MVP: Boyd. He's the ACC's top passer, averaging 297 yards per game. Boyd has thrown 15 touchdown passes (second in the ACC) to just two interceptions. He has added five more touchdowns rushing. He has saved his best throws for when Clemson has needed them most, and he can cement his status as a top Heisman contender with a strong performance this weekend against FSU.

Defensive MVP: DE Vic Beasley. The restoration of Clemson's defense has been impressive during the past two years, and the foundation for the turnaround might be the emergence of Beasley, who has blossomed into one of the nation's top pass rushers. Beasley's nine sacks lead the country, his 12 tackles for a loss rank third, and the suffocating pass rush has helped Clemson's secondary pick off 10 passes while allowing just four TDs.