Welcome to Clemson week 'Noles fans! As FSU fans, we've all see those t-shirts sold at the bookstore, Garnet n Gold, and other stores that have a pecking order on the back of the shirt. It says "The Good", "The Bad", "The Ugly." There's a FSU logo next to "Good", a Miami logo next to "Bad" and a UF logo next to "Ugly." This example goes to show what most FSU fans already realize: UF is considered our #1 rival, Miami is #2 and Clemson is #3.
Over the years, the Tigers haven't even been considered a rival by many casual fans out there. Besides those annual "Bowden Bowls", many fans didn't treat this matchup any different than any other ACC game. However, with the fall of the Miami Hurricanes and the rise of the Clemson Tigers, I'm hoping that changes. (I say Clemson is on the rise because they finally won another ACC title last season, although they typically always recruit well.)
Why should Clemson be a bigger rival than Miami?
- Fanbase. Clemson actually has fans! The Tigers, Hokies and 'Noles have the best fanbases in the ACC wheras Miami has the worst. What is the major reason why Florida is considered a bigger rival than Miami despite being in a different conference? Their fans. We all hate UF fans with a passion. But when does anyone say they hate a Miami fan? Not nearly as much because they are extremely rare to find. Now I understand Clemson fans don't typically live in Florida, but we are all aware that they exist and in the world of internet, television and other technology, communicating with rival fans in a different state has become easier.
- Division allignment. The first step to meeting any goal in a single season is to win the Atlantic Division. You can't win the ACC without first winning the division and you certainly can't make the National Title game without first winning the ACC. Games against Clemson should hold more meaning on paper than any game against Miami or Florida. The UF game has the potential to have National Title significance and recruitingsignificane. The Miami game can have National Title, recruiting and some ACC implications. However, the Clemson game can have National Title, recruiting, and a lot of ACC implications. A loss to Clemson realistically counts as 2 ACC losses. Since the first division tiebreaker is head-to-head, a loss to a division rival forces the losing team to make up 2 games rather than just 1 (like a loss to Miami or another Coastal Division team).
- On-field success. As FSU fans have noticed with the UF rivalry, the matchup loses a lot of lust when either team is playing poor. When UF was winning national titles and FSU was unranked, the game just wasn't much of a rivalry. The same can soon be said about the FSU-Miami rivalry. The 'Noles appear to be on their way back to national significance whereas the 'Canes are headed the wrong way. It's just going to be worse over the next few seasons as Miami struggles to even reach a bowl game. On the other hand, the Tigers look like they'll consistantly be ranked in the top 25 and in many cases they'll be in the top 15. When both rivals are hitting on all cylinders, it becomes significant throughout the entire nation and College Gameday shows up on campus. However, when one team is struggling, the nation doesn't seem to care about the rivalry.
- Series history. In the beginning of Clemson-FSU matchups, the 'Noles had the upper hand in the series, especially during the dominant 90's. However, the Tigers have had the upper hand more recently, especially at home, so that has spiced up the matchup. Back-and-forth rivalries are much more exciting than one-sided rivalries, even if it's just a stretch of 5-6 seasons.
So let me ask TN followers, who do you think should be FSU's #2 rival from this point forward?
Despite Miami's in-state location and past history with Florida State, I still think Clemson should be the new #2 rival. The FSU-Miami rivalry requires competitive games that have national significance. That's what made the rivalry so big in the 80's and 90's. Both teams were always ranked in the top 10 so it had national significance. With a Miami program that won't be ranked again in the top 10-15 for possibly a long time, I just don't see this game being all that important. Whereas the FSU-Clemson game could rival an Alabama-LSU divisional matchup, on a slightly lower level. Share your thoughts.