CLEMSON S.C.--The Florida State Seminoles lost their fourth consecutive trip to "Death Valley" Saturday night, 40-24, to the Clemson Tigers. With the loss, the Seminoles not only lost any chance of winning the ACC Atlantic Division, but it appears they also may have lost quarterback Christian Ponder.
Ponder was injured making a tackle on his fourth interception of the night, and suffered what offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said was likely a separated shoulder that could cause Ponder to miss next week's game at Wake Forrest and possibly more. A Florida State official later confirmed that the 'Noles' starting quaterback did in fact separate his right shoulder.
FSU led 24-21 heading into the fourth quarter, but Clemson scored 19 unanswered points as the 'Noles self-destructed behind two of Ponder's four interceptions. Senior tailback C.J. Spiller led the way for the Tigers with a school-record 312 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
"That game would be pretty easy to summarize. I thought that Spiller was the difference in the ball game," FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said. "Spiller is the one guy that made the biggest difference in my opinion. Our problem was turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. I was concerned last week when out quarterback didn't practice, wasn't throwing."
Ponder missed practice time on Monday and Tuesday with bruised ribs.
After Dwayne Allen's 17-yard catch put Clemson ahead 6-3 -- Richard Jackson missed the team's first extra point since the 2006 Music City Bowl -- Ponder answered right back with a 49-yard scoring throw to Lonnie Pryor less than two minutes later.
Early on it seemed as if defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews' announcement that this would be his last season would inspire his defense, as Jamie Robinson returned a Kyle Parker interception 52 yards for the score to go up 17-6.
The scoring slowed down in the second, largely thanks to mistake from both offenses.
Ponder threw a pair of picks, one after driving to Clemson's 21, after entering with just three all year.
Clemson tightened the game, taking advantage of Chris Thompson's fumble in his own territory. Two plays later, Parker found a streaking Xavier Dye across the middle of the field who finished off a 43-yard touchdown.
Spiller converted the first 2-point conversion of his career to cut the Seminoles lead to 17-14.
Spiller's 45-yard run late in the second half looked like it might bring Clemson more points. However, the Tigers came up empty after a first-and-goal from the 1. Parker was sacked by Markus White and coughed up the ball the Seminoles.
FSU will need to win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible. The Seminoles last failed to make a bowl game in 1981.