#4 Florida State(3-0) vs. #10 Clemson (3-0)
Clemson comes into this game as an underdog, but the Tigers are no strangers to knocking off the Seminoles. Clemson has won six of the last nine games against FSU, including last year’s match-up, which derailed FSU’s hopes for an ACC championship. In that game, the 21st-ranked Clemson Tigers racked up 443 total yards(344 yards passing) against an FSU defense that was supposed to be on another level. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins torched FSU’s secondary with a 144-yard performance on only seven receptions. The Clemson defense, which didn’t show up for many other games, made FSU’s weak running game completely disappear(29 rushing yards). FSU was heavily favored in that game as they are now. This year’s Clemson squad, has taken a step back perhaps, but quarterback Tajh Boyd has averaged 249 passing yards per game, while completing 73.3% of his passes. Boyd added six touchdowns and only one interception to go along with them. Clemson running back Andre Ellington is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has four touchdowns and will complement a very potent passing attack. This offense will score when given opportunities.
This Florida State squad is better than last year’s, unfortunately for Clemson. Over the course of three games, FSU has only given up a field goal. FSU running back James Wilder Jr. is averaging 6.9 yards per carry with four touchdowns and Chris Thompson is averaging a sky-high 14.1 yards per carry with three touchdowns. This rushing tandem will be sure to make up for last year’s pathetic showing. Quarterback E.J. Manuel matched Boyd’s touchdowns and interceptions but had less passing yards. The quarterback comparison isn’t fair, though, because Clemson has played tougher competition than Florida State, so Boyd probably has the advantage. Florida State comes into this game with the first-ranked defense and the second-ranked offense in the country. The Seminoles are thinking of a National Championship and they want to show Clemson and the rest of the world why.
Clemson has won six of the nine most recent games against FSU, as stated earlier, but they have won only one game played in Tallahassee out of the last ten. Clemson will have to overcome very brutal odds if they want to upset the Seminoles in their own stadium. Also, Clemson’s defense has been playing under par, giving up 19 points to Auburn(who was taken to overtime against LA Monroe) and 24 points to Ball State. Florida State is going to find success in the running game early and they are going to throw it at Clemson consistently for the entire game. The running game will also give Manuel success from the playaction, which will find multiple wide-open receivers on deep throws.
Florida State already gave Wake Forest a through beat-down for having the audacity to beat them last year. Expect the Seminoles to extend the invitation to Clemson as well. FSU by double digits.
Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.
GOTW record: 2-1
-Marty F. Nemec