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Clemson's goal is respect against No. 10 Virginia

Although Clemson is all but out of the Atlantic Coast Conference race, Saturday's game at Virginia could be very important to the future of coach Ken Hatfield.

The man who replaced Danny Ford two years ago was booed on his way to the press conference announcing his hiring, and despite winning an ACC title last year, Clemson fans have not warmed to Hatfield.

There has been speculation that he might leave the school at the end of the year to coach at Baylor, where Grant Teaff is stepping aside at the end of the season to become athletic director.

In any case, the 25th-ranked Tigers face going 0-3 in the conference for the first time when they play the 10th-ranked Cavaliers.

"We need to win this game mainly for respect," Clemson tailback Rodney Blunt said. "As we stand, we haven't won a big game this year."

Clemson's victories have been against Ball State and Tennessee-Chattanooga. The losses were to Florida State and Georgia Tech.

And it won't get any easier at Virginia.

"We have some pretty mean fans at times, but Virginia's fans, you've got to keep your helmet on on the sidelines because you might get some ice in your helmet," Blunt said. "You might get anything thrown at you."

Taking the blame: Florida State cornerback Clifton Abraham blamed himself for FSU's 19-16 loss to Miami. Abraham was defending on the play where receiver Lamar Thomas caught a 33-yard touchdown pass that put the Hurricanes ahead in the fourth quarter. But later Abraham received an apology from his coach, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

Although the Seminoles substitute significantly on defense, Abraham played every defensive snap and on the special teams against Miami. Afterward, Abraham needed intravenous fluids. "He (Thomas) was the better man on that play and I knew I left it all on the field," Abraham said.

Notes: The ACC is 12-4 against non-conference opponents in 1992 and 74-27-2 so far in the 1990s. The league is on pace to break its per-game attendance record, having drawn 1,020,123 fans in 23 games for an average of 48,577. That is 2,775 ahead of the existing record of 45,802 set a year ago. No doubt, with Florida State's Doak Cambpell Stadium drawing more than 60,000 people for every game, the Seminoles are helping the average. North Carolina State likely will be without starting quarterback Terry Jordan of Tampa against Texas Tech on Saturday. Jordan suffered stretched ligaments and muscles in his left ankle last Saturday.