FSU head coach faces historic odds, "great team" Clemson coming to town

by - Senior Writer -
Norvell says Clemson has a great team. (Photo courtesy ACC)
Norvell says Clemson has a great team. (Photo courtesy ACC)

Florida State enters Saturday’s game against No. 4 Clemson facing historic odds and a challenge from one of the most talented teams in the country, but head coach Mike Norvell isn’t making any guarantees or promising a win. He just wants his team to play well.

The point-spread between Florida State and Clemson started out at 29 points and quickly went over 32 Sunday, but as of Tuesday had widened to 35 points according to Vegas Insider. That is the largest point-spread FSU has faced as an underdog in program history. The Seminoles were 25.5-point dogs to Clemson last year and against Florida in 2009, according to research on Covers.com.

Norvell said his team understands the challenge they face.

“I think our guys, they know the challenge that’s ahead -- they know the football team that’s coming in,” Norvell said. “It’s an exceptional team in all aspects. We’ve got to go out there and play our best game, but that would be the focus regardless of who we’re playing. We’re at a point with where we are as a program where we just have to improve, and as a coaching staff put our guys in a position to win this game by everything that we’re asking them to do so we can go out there and play fast.”

Clemson has won five straight in the series, including a 59-10 thrashing in Tallahassee two years ago. In that game, the margin of victory was the largest for the Tigers in the series’ history, breaking the 21-point margin set in a 35-14 Clemson win in 2005. The 49 points tied for the largest margin of defeat for the Seminoles in FSU history – Florida defeated FSU 49-0 in 1974. The 49 points was also the worst loss for the Seminoles in the history of Doak Campbell history – Southern Miss defeated the Noles 58-14 (44 points) in 1981.

The minus-21 yards rushing by Florida State tied for the second-lowest given up by Clemson in school history.

The odds are greater this time around, something that Norvell understands.

“I think Clemson, they are a great football team. They are coming off their first regular-season loss in however many years against that Notre Dame team,” Norvell said. “I think you see an offense that is versatile, they have dynamic players all over the field. You look at the quarterback position with Lawrence, he is a special talent. You can say once-in-a-decade, but there aren't too many that are like him that are out there. He is a fun player to watch. He has not only the physical tools. but it's also the charisma that he brings and the leader that he is.

“Etienne is as good of a back as there is in the country. They have got some dynamic playmakers out on the perimeter, and they are an experienced group offensively. On the defensive side of the ball, it's a defense that has some extremely talented guys. They are going to attack from all aspects. Very rarely do you see the same look twice. They are going to play fast and be multiple in what they do and do it with really talented personnel.”

Norvell took a page out of Dabo Swinney’s playbook and said the Seminoles' biggest opponent Saturday will be Florida State.

“For us, we have to be on point in all aspects of our game. We know the challenge that is in front of us, but I tell our guys every day we have to go out there and put together the best version of us,” he said. “We are excited to compete and we are excited to be here at home, but that is a great team that is coming in here.”

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