A few things have changed since Atlantic Coast Conference "rivals" Clemson and Miami last renewed acquaintances.

That tends to happen when four years pass between meetings.

When these teams last met on Sept. 17, 2005, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris was in 10th grade, Clemson standout C.J. Spiller was coming off a 318-yard, four-touchdown effort for Union County High in north Florida and getting recruited by the Hurricanes, Randy Shannon was Miami's defensive coordinator and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney was working with Clemson's wide receivers.

So now, 1,498 days later, the Tigers (3-3, 2-2 ACC) will visit the eighth-ranked Hurricanes (5-1, 2-1) on Saturday afternoon, a critical game for both teams in the conference title chase.

Of course, that doesn't mean either side knows a whole lot about the other.

"I don't know if it can be a rivalry," said Miami senior left tackle Jason Fox, who'll start his team-best 43rd career game. "I've never played them."

Strange as that sounds for teams in the same conference, it's not entirely uncommon nowadays.

In the 12-team ACC, all schools play eight league games. Five are against divisional rivals, one against a "primary crossover opponent" from the other division _ for Miami, it's Florida State; for Clemson, it's Georgia Tech _ and two rotating nondivisional opponents.

Similar setups prevail in the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12, Conference USA ... almost any league with multiple divisions. Just last week, SEC foes South Carolina and Alabama played for the first time in 1,491 days.

"To be honest with you, I looked at the schedule a while ago and said, 'Dang, Clemson,'" Miami left guard Orlando Franklin said. "Got to worry about them. I've never played them before, but I've watched their games and they've got a two-deep for D-line and linebackers. That means they won't be tired."

All the Tigers and Hurricanes aren't strangers.

Clemson has 16 players from the talent-rich state of Florida on its roster, with Miami safety Randy Phillips having ties to at least two of them. He and Tigers wide receiver Jacoby Ford essentially grew up together in Palm Beach County, and Phillips hosted Spiller on his recruiting visit to Coral Gables four years ago.

"I know the guys pretty well," Phillips said. "It's going to be a friendly rivalry when we get out there. Should be a great game. A lot of speed, a lot of talent on display, a lot of great individual players on display. The better team is going to win the game, of course."

Like Phillips, Ford is already eager, too.

Miami "is actually where I did want to play as a kid," Ford said. "I grew up a big Miami fan and always wanted to go there when I was smaller. It didn't turn out that way and I wound up in Clemson, which I don't regret at all."

It's almost too bad these teams don't play more, because the first two meetings since Miami joined the ACC were classics.

Both needed overtime, Clemson winning 24-17 at the Orange Bowl on Nov. 6, 2004 and Miami prevailing 36-30 in triple overtime at Death Valley 10 1/2 months later.

Phillips, linebacker Darryl Sharpton and defensive end Eric Moncur are the only three remaining Miami players who played in the 2005 game. For Clemson, the only current Tiger who appears on the stat sheet from the matchup four years ago is running back Rendrick Taylor, who caught one pass for minus-4 yards.

"When ACC teams come, you know it's that time," said Shannon, in his third year as Miami's coach. "Players understand, and I've told them this, it's a different season now. We're back in conference play and we've got to win conference games. ... And no matter if it's a couple years ago or now, it's Clemson. It's still a good team."

And if nothing else, there'll be a bit more familiarity next year.

Miami goes to Clemson in 2010. After that, they won't see each other again until 2014.