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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: September 30, 10:01 PM ET
Season's not over for Clemson

By Andrea Adelson
ESPN.com

The "College GameDay" trucks have rolled away and the spotlight has been turned off. There is no buildup to a big game this week, no more questions about the importance of winning, not just for this program but for the ACC.

Clemson may be out of the marquee game, but the Tigers are not really out of anything.

Not after only four games.

Rashard Hall
Rashard Hall shows some frustration during Clemson's loss to Florida State.

Yes, their loss Saturday to Florida State was an emotional, thrilling, intense and utterly draining ballgame. The defending ACC champs no longer control their Atlantic Division destiny and need help to get back to the ACC title game. But it is impossible to write off a season that has only just begun.

To be absolutely sure his players understand that point, coach Dabo Swinney put together a video for his team to watch that showed exactly what happened in the game. Goal No. 1 is for his players to realize they are still the same team that had a 14-point lead on the Seminoles in the second half, hoping to bolster some confidence headed into their game against Boston College on Saturday.

"We know we're capable of being a good football team," Swinney said. "That was one game and a tough loss, but we have a long way to go. We have so much in front of us. We have so much opportunity to go have a very, very good season."

Clemson plays in the ACC, a league known for its utter unpredictability and upsets every week. Florida State still has a long season to play, including games at rival Miami, against NC State -- which beat the Noles in 2010 -- and at Virginia Tech on a Thursday night.

Dabo Swinney
Dabo Swinney says Clemson still has a chance for a very good season.

For Clemson to have any hopes of getting back to the ACC title game, it needs to win out while Florida State starts losing. That might seem unlikely right now, given the way the Noles played last week, but stranger things have happened in this league.

Even if Florida State runs the table and wins the ACC, we have very recently seen a nonleague champ selected for an at-large berth into the BCS. Last season, the ACC made history as it got two teams into the BCS for the first time, when Virginia Tech made it to the Sugar Bowl with an 11-2 record after a loss in the ACC title game.

Clemson dropped from No. 9 to No. 16 in the coaches' poll following its loss, keeping the Tigers in position to move into contention for an at-large BCS berth if they win out. To be eligible for selection as an at-large team, you need to have nine victories and be ranked in the top 14 in the final BCS standings. Remember, the coaches' poll counts one-third in the BCS standings tabulation.

"We're not a great team in September, but we possibly could be in November," Swinney said. "It's a long year and there's plenty of examples out there for that.

"I think our guys understand that we've got a chance to be a good football team if we keep improving. We're a ways away from that right now. We've got a lot of guys we've got to continue to coach, a lot of coaching, a lot of teaching, a lot of corrections every single day, but we're going to get there.

"We've got to do a great job as coaches to make sure that game there doesn't beat you again. Florida State is a good example; we beat them [last year], they go up to Wake Forest and got beat the very next week. We've got to do a good job of focusing on what we can control. We have a chance for a great season. There's a lot of things out there for this team. Anything can happen in this conference. There's no telling what's going to be going on in November. The ball bounces funny, things happen, so what you better do is take care of yourself, and then you look up and see where you are, and if you have an opportunity, great."