Clemson vs. FSU Prediction: Can an injured Seminole team hang with Tigers?

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson and FSU kick off at noon.
Clemson and FSU kick off at noon.

Clemson will attempt to rebound from its first regular-season loss in more than three calendar years when the Tigers face the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, Nov. 21. Kickoff at Doak Campbell Stadium is scheduled for noon ET.

This game at one time was the premier matchup in the ACC and usually decided the winner of the Atlantic Division. That isn’t the case anymore as the Seminoles are trying to rebuild the once-proud program under new head coach Mike Norvell. Their season has been marked by opt-outs and injuries, and it’s a depleted bunch that will face Clemson Saturday.

NO. 4/4 CLEMSON (7-1, 6-1 ACC) at FLORIDA STATE (2-6, 1-6 ACC)

TELEVISION: ABC (Dave Pasch, Mike Golic, Dawn Davenport)
RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 138, XM 193, Internet 955

OVERALL: Clemson trails series, 13-20
HOME: Series is tied, 8-8
ROAD: Clemson trails series, 5-12
LAST MEETING: Oct. 12, 2019 (45-14, W)
STREAK: Clemson, Won 5


*Saturday represents unfamiliar territory for Clemson of late: a game following a regular season loss. Clemson has responded well in those rare instances in recent years though, as the Tigers have not lost back-to-back games since November 2011. A win on Saturday would push Clemson to 26-6 in games following a loss under Dabo Swinney, including season openers following a loss in the previous season finale.

*This week, Clemson seeks a third straight win at Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time. Clemson will attempt to become only the fifth program ever to win three consecutive road games against Florida State in Tallahassee, joining Florida (six straight from 1966-76, three from 1982-86 and 2004-08), Houston (four from 1966-78), Memphis (three from 1969-75) and Miami (Fla.) (five from 1957-77 and four from 1981-87).

*With a win, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (31-1) can tie the Clemson record for career wins by a starting quarterback, held jointly by Rodney Williams (32 from 1985-88), Tajh Boyd (32 from 2010-13) and Deshaun Watson (32 from 2014-16). Lawrence opened his career with wins in his first 25 consecutive starts prior to suffering his only loss in last year's College Football Playoff National Championship. Dating to his time at Cartersville (Ga.) High School, he is 64-0 in regular season games as a starter, as his only losses across those two levels have come in postseason play.

*Freshmen and sophomores make up 73.7 percent of FSU's roster, the highest underclassmen percentage in the country. Additionally, FSU's 13 seniors are the 6th-fewest in FBS.

*Clemson has outscored FSU 104-24 over the last two meetings. That includes a 59-10 victory over the Seminoles in Clemson's last visit to Tallahassee two years ago. In that contest, the Tigers scored more points than any ACC visitor to Doak Campbell Stadium ever and handed FSU its largest margin of defeat in a conference contest.

*This season, 19 Seminoles have made their first collegiate start, the most in the ACC and tied for the 4th-highest total nationally. Florida State started eight freshmen at North Carolina State, six on offense - including four on the offensive line - and two on defense.


He’s back. Starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence returns to the starting lineup after missing two games due to COVID. In his stead, backup DJ Uiagalelei was magnificent, leading the Tigers to a win over Boston College and throwing for a record number of yards in a two-overtime loss at Notre Dame.

A key for the Tigers will be getting starting running back Travis Etienne untracked. The standout senior has broken the 100-yard mark just twice this season but hasn’t had much room to run behind an offensive line that struggles in the run game. Etienne has just 112 combined rushing yards over the last two games, and that’s on 38 carries. Getting him going will be a big key for the Tigers.

Etienne is also second on the team with 491 receiving yards, while six different players have caught multiple touchdowns. Leading receiver Amari Rodgers ranks second in the ACC with 720 yards and third with six touchdown grabs.

The good news is that the Florida State defensive line has been lackluster this season. The Seminoles rank dead last in the ACC in sacks with just 10 in eight games, and leader Marvin Wilson will not miss the rest of the season with an injury.

This won’t be pretty. The Noles are ranked 103rd nationally in total defense, and that was before the loss of several key players.



James Blackman started the season as the starter, but he’s transferring out. Jordan Travis has played the most snaps, but he’s been hurt (concussion). Chubba Purdy started last week’s game, but he’s out for the season. Tate Rodemaker has played some, but he’s not the long-term solution. Who starts Saturday? Probably Travis.

Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry has opted out, and the Seminole passing attack is just not very good. That means the running game has to share the burden, and while Travis leads the team with 469 rushing yards, the trio of La'Damian Webb, Jashaun Corbin, and Lawrance Toafili — all newcomers for FSU — have combined for more than 900 rushing yards. Wide receiver Ontaria Wilson and tight end Camren McDonald are the most reliable targets in the passing game.

Clemson’s defense was gouged against Notre Dame, and a mobile quarterback has given the Tigers fits this season. If the Noles can get the ground game going, and if Travis can make plays with his legs, and they don’t turn it over, they might keep it interesting. For a half.



FSU is tied for 1st in the NCAA with five blocked kicks this season, courtesy of two blocked field goals, two blocked punts and one blocked PAT. Florida State, Army and Boise State are the only three teams in the country with at least one blocked field goal, PAT and punt this season. Punter Alex Mastromanno is decent, averaging over 43 yards per kick, but otherwise the Seminoles are just a whole lot of average.

Clemson punter Will Spiers is having a breakout season, averaging 47.07 yards per punt. If he had enough kicks to qualify, he would be in the top ten nationally. Kicker BT Potter had three kicks blocked against Miami, but none of the three were his fault. Take away those three kicks, and he is 14-of-15 on field goals.


Clemson is about to take flight. The Tigers have muddled through the middle part of the season, battling injuries and mistakes and COVID, but the open date should prove to have healing effects -- and Florida State will pay the price. Look for Lawrence to be his usual stellar self, the defense to take a step forward, and Etienne to have the kind of game we’ve been waiting to see.


More TigerNet picks
Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 52-10 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 60-3 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 55-10 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 62-10 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-7 Clemson*

(* Picking the same score all season)

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet Tony Crumpton
Wake Forest 37-13 CU 42-9 CU 49-10 CU 49-13 CU 47-10 CU 44-13 CU 42-7 CU
The Citadel 49-0 CU 52-7 CU 57-6 CU 59-7 CU 55-0 CU 62-6 CU 42-7 CU
Virginia 41-23 CU 38-12 CU 41-14 CU 52-17 CU 45-16 CU 41-13 CU 42-7 CU
Miami 42-17 CU 37-16 CU 38-23 CU 38-20 CU 37-20 CU 41-20 CU 42-7 CU
GT 73-7 CU 45-13 CU 51-13 CU 52-7 CU 55-10 CU 44-13 CU 42-7 CU
Syracuse 47-21 CU 62-9 CU 63-10 CU 70-3 CU 59-6 CU 63-3 CU 42-7 CU
BC 34-28 CU 37-17 CU 34-20 CU 35-7 CU 27-17 CU 44-20 CU 42-7 CU
Notre Dame 47-40 ND 2OT 30-20 CU 24-20 CU 28-14 CU 27-23 CU 30-13 CU 42-7 CU
Points - 7 11 7 11 11 9

* Points: 3 pts for best correct prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 2 pts for picking score exactly, 1 pt for picking the correct winner

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