TAMPA, Fla. - The SEC probably would not want to lend a piggyback ride, but Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has an interesting idea for sprucing up the ACC championship game.
A litany of factors have contributed to the league's showcase amounting to a sideshow to that of its regional brethren, and Saturday's contest took similar shape despite its on-field fireworks.
While the turnout at 65,867-seat Raymond James Stadium appeared significantly stronger than recent ACC championships, the event still wasn't exactly a tough ticket.
The ACC has taken steps to rectify at least one of the issues, withdrawing the game from Florida and moving it to a more centralized location - Charlotte - for the next two years.
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But Swinney is in favor of looking into an unconventional move - putting the ACC championship, like the SEC championship, in Atlanta, creating in essence an early December doubleheader.
Swinney has not given substantial thought to the logistics, other than maybe to start one game at 1 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m.
"I think it would be a great idea if some entrepreneur got a hold of that," Swinney said. "We've been doing the ACC/SEC kickoff there the last couple of years, and that would be an easy venue where you wouldn't have to worry about weather and things like that.
"All I know is wherever they have it, Clemson wants to be in it.
The Tigers played Saturday's ACC championship with one hand tied, just not behind their back.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele broke two bones on the top of his right hand when he punched a wall delivering a pregame speech.
Steele's hand was wrapped in a cast for the game.
"Don't ask," Steele said with a smile. "You do dumb things sometimes. Just an accident."
For the books
Senior running back C.J. Spiller did a lot of catching up to former Clemson back Travis Zachery.
Spiller's 3-yard touchdown run on the opening drive extended his season-long streak of games with a touchdown to 13, tying Zachery's school record, set from 2000-01.
Spiller's 36-yard score in the third quarter then gave him 19 touchdowns this season, snapping Zachery's single-year mark.
"He's a tremendous player," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said, adding, "I wish him the best in the NFL."
He also surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season, the first time Spiller has done so. He also clipped Raymond Priester's single-season mark for yards from scrimmage (1,460).
By halftime, Spiller had eclipsed the ACC championship rushing record, topping Virginia Tech back Darren Evans' 114 a year ago.
The quick hitter to Georgia Tech B-back Jonathan Dwyer wasn't the only dive Clemson was defending against.
If the Tigers prevailed, they automatically advanced to the BCS' Jan. 5 Orange Bowl in Miami.
With a loss, they figured to be passed over by the next three bowl tie-ins - the Chick-fil-A, Gator and Champs Sports bowls. Thus they would fall to their furthest feasible spot the ACC allows its championship loser to drop - the Dec. 27 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.
Bowl selections will be announced during Fox's 8 p.m. selection show today.
Senior Michael Palmer had at least three catches to break the school's single-season mark for tight ends (40, set in 1970). ... Georgia Tech kicker Scott Blair booted the two longest field goals of his career in the first half, 48- and 49-yarders. They were his third and fourth field goals of 40-plus yards this season. By halftime, his three field goals had tied an ACC championship record, matching Wake Forest kicker Sam Swank's three in 2006.
True chunk plays
A full day of persistent rain Friday made for a slippery track Saturday, with players slipping frequently when cutting within the numbers on the field.
After Clemson experienced rain in its first five games in Death Valley, Swinney presumed the Tigers should have felt right at home.
"That's just par for the course this year," he said.