CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Boston College learned something about itself in defeat and sent a serious message about its toughness to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Eagles defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka says players were disappointed with last week’s 28-17 loss to Florida State that kicked off the school’s ACC era. But beware, future ACC opponents, Boston College is for real.

“This is supposed to be the dominating team in the ACC,” Kiwanuka said. “If this is the benchmark of the league, then we showed we could play with anyone.”

The Eagles (2-1, 0-1 ACC) face another Bowden and another conference first this week, traveling to Clemson (2-1, 1-1) to take on coach Tommy Bowden’s Tigers after their tight loss to Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles.

If any Boston College players had doubts about competing in their new league, they likely disappeared when they scored 17 straight points to lead 17-14 in the second half. Despite the Seminoles’ comeback, the Eagles hit the road with some confidence.

And they’ll need it. Clemson’s Death Valley is the league’s second largest stadium behind Florida State’s field. Its atmosphere and deafening crowd noise are unparalleled in the conference.

“I can’t wait” to play there, Kiwanuka said. “It’s what college football is all about.”

Clemson coach Tommy Bowden remembers when he was a Duke assistant in the early 1980s have to come to Death Valley to face the Tigers, then the ACC’s powerhouse program. The throngs of people with orange shirts and pennants on hand hours before kickoff to boost their team all added to the environment, Bowden said.

Plus, there was “the fear of knowing what was getting off my bus (at Duke) and what was getting off their bus,” Bowden recalled.

A big question for the Eagles this week is the status of starting quarterback Quinton Porter. After Porter threw two interceptions at the start that led to Florida State’s 14-0 lead, he settled down to drive Boston College into the lead.

But a lineman rolled on Porter’s right ankle, sending him to the sidelines. “I just couldn’t put any weight on it,” he said.

The Eagles offense stalled some with Porter out of action. He hasn’t been ruled in or out of Saturday’s game at Clemson, and did not practice with Boston College early in the week.

“We’ll just keep playing it by ear and see how it goes,” Porter said.

If Porter can’t play, backup Matt Ryan will get the call. He led the Eagles to the goal line, but Florida State stopped them on fourth-and-goal from the 2.

There are “a lot of challenges in front of (Ryan),” Boston College coach Tom O’Brien said. “But he’s a very confident young man and the team has a lot of confidence in him.”

Clemson should have an increase in confidence, too.

Trailing Miami by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers rallied before falling 36-30 in a triple-overtime thriller that’s already been dubbed an “Instant Classic” by ESPN Classic. Clemson has had troubles in the past rebounding from critical, close losses – a 28-24 home defeat to Georgia Tech a year ago started a four-game slide and turned a potentially stellar season into a 1-4 start. The Tigers upperclassmen have tried to ensure that won’t happen this time.

Clemson cornerback Tye Hill said after the game he wasn’t into moral victories because those are for players who didn’t think they could win in the first place.

Bowden played some of Hill’s postgame comments for his team this week, telling them if they all shared Hill’s attitude, “we’d be in pretty good shape.”

Hill likes what he’s seen of his teammates this week. “We have a lot of confidence,” he says. “We’ve worked so hard, we can’t let this get to us.”

And especially not after seeing how Boston College entered the ACC.

AP-ES-09-23-05 0635EDT


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