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Thursday, May 22, 2014
ACC's Ultimate Road Trip: Week 4

By Andrea Adelson

We have come to Week 4 in our Ultimate ACC Road Trip, where each week we pretend we have all the power to decide where we're going to watch some football.

This is a no-brainer choice.

Week 4 schedule

Saturday, Sept. 20
Our pick: Clemson at Florida State

Why you should come along: Pretty simple, really. The winner of this game has gone on to play in five straight ACC championship games. Odds are this season will be no different, with Florida State and Clemson going into the season as the top teams in the Atlantic Division once again. Florida State has won two straight in the series and three of the last four and would seem to have the upper hand going into this one, with Jameis Winston and several playmakers back on both offense and defense. Clemson, meanwhile, has to replace its leading passer, rusher and receiver from a year ago.

But the Tigers have the potential to be extremely tough on defense, especially with their front seven. Last year, Clemson was completely outclassed in every phase of the game. The Tigers never really had a chance to be in the game, not with all the turnovers to start. And that was at home, with a veteran quarterback behind center. If the offense can hold on to the ball and make a few plays, the defense will be in much better position to affect the outcome of the game in Tallahassee.

There is little doubt Dabo Swinney has elevated the Clemson program. But Florida State, along with South Carolina, has become a must-win game. The coach has delivered two wins over Florida State since 2008 and one against South Carolina in the same time period, making him 3-9 against his team's two biggest rivals. Nobody wants to hear that this might be a rebuilding year for Clemson. When you put together three straight 10-win seasons, you don't rebuild. You reload. But are they reloaded enough to catch Florida State?

We find out in September.

Road trips