Florida State vs Clemson Prediction
For the first time in two years, the Clemson Tigers host a huge night game when the Florida St. Seminoles roll into Death Valley for a 7:45 p.m. start. The game will be televised by ESPN, and promises to hold all of the electricity and excitement that Clemson fans remember from the Boston College game two years ago. A win takes the Tigers closer to their goal of winning the ACC’s Atlantic Division, but the Seminoles are on a roll, at least offensively. The Tigers are the more talented team, but can they get over the hype and the excitement and play sound, fundamental football? Can they protect the ball? If they can…..Death Valley will still be rockin’ late into the night.
Florida St. at Clemson
When Florida St. Has the Ball
Make no mistake about it – the Noles live through the air. The Noles are one of the top passing offenses in the nation. FSU is ninth in the country and second in the ACC 307.13 yards per game. Quarterback Christian Ponder is 206 of 297 through the air for 2,453 yards for 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions, and five of his receivers have 25 or more catches. Jermaine Thomas is a solid running back, but if FSU is going to run on the Tigers, it could be off of the quarterback run – a play that has given the Clemson defense fits this season. However, Ponder has bruised ribs, and his running could be limited. Look for Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele to try and take some shots at Ponder in order to limit his effectiveness. This Clemson defense will be the best FSU has seen this season, even without defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, and should be a fun matchup to watch. Steele could do like he did against Miami and use the corners to blitz, which could lead to a big play against a hurt quarterback. Or a big play against the Tigers…
ADVANTAGE – EVEN
When Clemson Has the Ball
The Tigers have also been on a roll offensively, and have to be licking their chops at the prospect of going against the FSU defense, which has been porous. FSU is 93rd in the country and 11th in the ACC in scoring defense allowing 29.75 points per game. The Noles are 109th in the nation and last in the ACC in total defense giving up 428.88 yards per contest. Teams have had tons of success running to the outside on FSU, and Clemson should be able to take advantage of FSU’s lack of defensive line depth and speed. Matching Spiller up with FSU’s linebackers coming out of the backfield, along with the success that Clemson’s tight ends have had, could mean a huge offensive night. Look for Clemson to test the run game out early, then use misdirection and play action passing to try and hit big plays down the field.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
The FSU special teams have been very average this season. Freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins is 25-for-29 on extra points and 11 of 16 with his field goals, and the Seminoles average 9.69 yards per punt return which is 53rd in the nation and sixth in the ACC. They average 19.46 yards per kickoff return, which is 99th in the nation and 10th in the league. The big question on special teams will be – will the Seminoles kick to C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, rather than let Clemson’s offense face a short field against their out-manned defense? FSU head coach Bobby Bowden hinted at that this week, so the stage could be set for Spiller to have a big moment on national television.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
The fire that the Clemson coaching was under earlier this season has subsided somewhat. The offense has been better, the play-calling looks like it has been better, and the special teams and defense have been, for the most part, outstanding. On the other side of the field is the Seminole coaching staff, which had its’ defensive coordinator announce his retirement, the head coach battling rumors of his own retirement while he lobbies for another season, and a head-coach-in-waiting in Jimbo Fisher. Watching FSU on television, it looks like Fisher is already in charge, and Bowden steps in when he has to. But Papa Bowden has operated that way for years and has always depended on his assistants. For once, the Clemson coaching staff has the stability that Florida St. doesn’t.
ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON
This one has all the earmarks of a classic, high-scoring affair. Add to that the luster of a national television audience, a night game in the crisp November air, and possible ACC division title implications, and this is THE game for Clemson fans to be at. All in all, this one should be fun to watch, especially if Spiller can get loose on the Seminole defense. Expect the crowd to be into the game early, and for Clemson to try and get as much pressure as possible on Ponder. IF the Tigers turn it over, and if they can’t contain the FSU passing attack, this one could be a “whoever has the ball last” type of game.. If Clemson can control the football and the running game, they can win this one by more than the point spread. In the end, C.J. Spiller will do his thing…….
CLEMSON 34, FSU 20