What are some of the factors for you in this game Saturday?
Bowden: A lot of times it comes down to turnovers. Turnovers would be a factor. Turnovers. Penalties. Kicking game. Not giving up big plays.
When you say it’s hard to change perception about the rivalry game compared to a conference championship game, do you think fans understand that it’s more important to actually with the conference than beat your archrival?
Bowden: I would say at the university of Florida they probably do. They’ve had a championship game longer than we have … referring to the Florida-Florida State rivalry. The game is awfully big but it is quickly approaching [that of the] conference championship game.
What does your success against South Carolina mean to you?
Bowden: It really doesn’t mean anything. It’s come under two different coaches. With this profession being the way it is, it’s more of what have you done for me lately. It’s not what you did five or six or seven years ago. They remember November. It’s not really significant.
Yeah but if you don’t beat them maybe you aren’t sitting there right now as head coach.
Bowden: Yeah that’s obviously the case when I was at Alabama. I was there for three years under Coach Curry and we were 0-3 against Auburn. We were 10-1 and they were listing candidates [to replace him].
Is it an additional motivating factor for you to beat these guys considering it could keep them out of a bowl?
Bowden: Not for us. We’ve got eight. It would be more incentive for them.
You said eight wins for a while that eight wins wasn’t significant, that seven wins was not significant. At what point do the wins become significant? Nine?
Bowden: The number it takes to win the ACC Championship. With so many teams in the top 10 with two losses, it looks like you can do that with two or three losses. Right now, it’s not the number of wins, it’s the number of wins to get to an ACC Championship.
What about winning 10 games? The players were talking
Bowden: Well now it is because the ACC Championship is not a factor. I don’t think that’s been done for 17 years.
You’ve obviously seen on film the fact that their defense has been gouged by the run the last couple of weeks, correct?
Bowden: It has, but again, you look at McFadden and Jones and Tebow. Tebow just did something that hasn’t been done in the history of college football. Both of those Arkansas guys are first round draft picks. When you have a nationally ranked pass defense and you can’t throw the ball the rushing stats can be deceiving. They play that aggressive man-free coverage. A lot of it was Tebow. There are certain things we’ll try to do in the running game
Clemson hasn’t lost to South Carolina back-to-back years since 1970. Is that a motivating factor you’ll speak with your team about before the game?
Bowden: Times in college football are changing. South Florida was never ranked No. 2 in the country. Times in college football are changing and we all realize that. I’m sure the fans all know that and I’m sure I’ll hear that before and after the game.
Would you be concerned this week if you weren’t playing South Carolina from a motivational standpoint?
Bowden: If we were playing a non-conference opponent right now that’s not a rival, I’d be very concerned. The fact that it is a rival makes the energy level higher. I’d be more concerned.
What have they done well in the secondary?
Bowden: Man coverage. Tight man coverage. The little slants, outs, hitches and hooks. They take away the high-percentage throws and make you go with the downfield throws and double-cuts. The problem there is they take a little more
You mentioned all of the things they have in their favor. What about your team? What do you have in your favor?
Bowden: We don’t have a lot in our favor. They are playing at home. Senior night. Open date. Got to win seven. I don’t have any of those. Those are the facts as they are.
But Clemson has won eight of its last nine games in Columbia?
Bowden: They didn’t have this guy coaching.
What do you like about your team headed into this game?
Bowden: The biggest thing I like about this team is that we have shown up to play every week. When the ball fell short on the field goal Saturday night, and double zero shows up on the scoreboard … of the 11 games we’ve played, we’ve shown up to play. We’ve played with intensity and played for 60 minutes. That would be the one thing I like. We have a nucleus of young guys. So we are taking some guys that have another year to come back and do something, and to still show up every week.
Was the second half last year against South Carolina surprising as anything you’ve seen with this rivalry?
Bowden: No it wasn’t surprising to me because of the guy coaching and the guy calling the plays. Check Coach Spurrier’s track record in his career. There is never a comfort zone with what he does offensively. Being at Florida State and watching what he did at Florida. At Duke. So no, that didn’t surprise me with being ahead by 14 points and him calling the plays.
It seems as though these two programs have more respect for each other lately. Would you agree with that?
Bowden: I have changed. I think I’ve said it on the radio show last night and I changed my tune a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago I used to say I hope this team is 0-10 and we go 10-0 and we go play. But, with this rivalry, if it ever wants to get to the national spotlight, we both have to have success. Then it becomes more marketable for national television. Until we both have consistent success then the rivalry will never have the recognition it deserves
But wouldn’t you say there was more of a respect between the two programs?
Bowden: Just between the coaches. I wouldn’t say the fans share that philosophy.
Can you size up your running attack versus theirs?
Bowden: Both backs are very similar. Cory Boyd is very talented. Mike Davis we recruited very heavily. I don’t know if either one have C.J.’s speed but both are tackle to tackle to rushers, more like James. They’ll run draws off their pass action, we’ll run off our run-action.
Did you change your philosophy in regards to the rivalry the year it wasn’t picked up on television?
Bowden: It might have. That doesn’t stick out. I probably heard a lot of coaches talking about other rivalries where their game would be picked up coast-to-coast. I don’t remember the year it wasn’t picked up but it could have been.
But how could that help you if South Carolina does well? Wouldn’t that make it harder to recruit against them?
Bowden: Yeah, but as I mentioned, it’s recruits. It’s all about recruiting. The team with the best players usually wins. That’s not always the case. But recruits talk about it. Exposure on a national basis helps recruiting. Overall, in the long run, it is best.
How different was the IPTAY circuit last year after losing to these guys?
Bowden: It wasn’t so much, it was losing four out of five than losing the last game.
Their offense is ranked 74th nationally. What are your thoughts on that?
Bowden: Total offense … a lot of that has to do with their inability to get on the field on defense. I think I’ve heard him say that. Every offensive guy wants three and outs. More at bats. Those stats are directly related to getting on the field.
When do you sit down with Terry Don Phillips and talk about a potential contract extension?
Bowden: I guess, he always does it at the end of the year.
Even though you have a great deal of respect for Coach Spurrier, but does it rifle you at all that he has an advantage?
Bowden: No. I think you have to earn your spurs. Seven SEC titles. One National Championship. For a long time at Florida State my father couldn’t win the big one. “He couldn’t win the big one.” Kind of like how Boston College has kept us out of the championship game. Then he earned his spurs. But no, he has the advantage. He’s earned his spurs.
Atmosphere wise- this is the first time you’ll face this kind of environment this year with approximately 80,000 people in attendance. How do you try and combat that?
Bowden: No we practice with noise today and Wednesday and Thursday. We do have a silent snap count. We practice communicating. It was loud here, even when we had the ball.