Clemson vs. FSU Prediction: Can the 'Noles pull off the upset?

Clemson vs. FSU Prediction: Can the 'Noles pull off the upset?

by - Senior Writer -

It’s always fun when Florida State comes to town.

Clemson put a beating on the Seminoles in Tallahassee last season and are favored to do it again this season. However, Florida State is playing better and the Tigers are coming off a one-point win at North Carolina. Can the Noles keep it close or even pull off the upset? We will find out starting Saturday at 3:30 pm in Death Valley.

NO. 2/2 CLEMSON (5-0, 3-0 ACC) vs. FLORIDA STATE (3-2, 2-1 ACC)

WHEN: SATURDAY, OCT. 12 , 3:30 P.M. ET


TV: ABC (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay, Molly McGrath)

RADIO: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, C.J. Spiller, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)

NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One (Ryan Radtke, Derek Rackley)

SATELLITE RADIO: XM 384 | Internet: 990 PBP: Gene Deckerhoff/Tom Block Analyst: William Floyd Sideline: Tom Block


*Clemson enters this week in search of a milestone victory for the program. At 749-459-45 all-time, Clemson is one win away from becoming the 15th FBS program to record 750 all-time wins. Clemson would be the first ACC program to reach the 750-win mark.

*Last year, Clemson became the first program in ACC history to open four consecutive seasons with six consecutive wins, a mark Clemson will attempt to extend this year by opening 6-0 for a fifth consecutive season. It would be Clemson's 16th 6-0 start all-time, dating to its 6-0 SIAA-title-winning campaign in 1900.

*Both teams had open dates last week. Clemson is 11-2 following regular season open weeks under Head Coach Dabo Swinney. Since becoming a founding member of the ACC in 1953, Clemson is 38-19 in regular season play following off weeks and has won nine of its last 10 such contests.

*Through the games of Oct. 5, Clemson was one of only two teams (Florida) with four Power Five wins and one of only four teams (Florida, Ohio State, Western Kentucky) with three conference wins so far this season.

*Clemson has gone 26 consecutive games without allowing opponents to produce a 100-yard rusher, the longest active streak in the country. Clemson's zero 100-yard rushers allowed since 2018 are the fewest in the country, and the 26-game streak is its longest since at least 1980.

*The home team has won 13 of the last 17 games in the series. Since 2003, Clemson has won at Florida State three times, in 2006, 2016 and 2018. Florida State’s only win at Clemson since 2001 was in 2013. The last three road wins in the series (Florida State in 2013, Clemson in 2016 and 2018) all preceded National Championship victories that year.

*Each of the last 10 years, the winner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game has gone on to win the Atlantic Division title. Each of the last eight years, the winner of this matchup has won the ACC Championship, including each of the last four years by the Tigers.


Quarterback James Blackman has recovered from his MCL sprain and has been practicing with the team since last week. Florida State head coach Willie Taggart told the media earlier this week that Blackman will start while graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook will also play.

Both quarterbacks have plenty of targets and it starts with All-ACC receiver Tamorrion Terry. Terry leads the Seminoles with 21 catches for 384 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Four other receivers have 10 or more receptions so far -- D.J. Matthews, Ontaria Wilson, Keyshawn Helton and Tre'Shaun Harrison. However, new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has used running back Cam Akers and tight end Tre' McKitty as targets in the passing game. Watch out screens and the dreaded wheel route.

Akers is the real deal at running back, and is probably the most talented back the Tigers will see this season. Akers has registered 90 percent of the carries for running backs this season (backup Khalan Laborn has just 18 carries) and will have to carry the load Saturday. Both Charlotte and UNC had success on the ground against the Clemson defense (getting over 140 yards each) and it will be interesting to see how much Akers is used of the Seminoles keep it close. Clemson’s overall defense has been stout, and if the Noles get behind and have to throw, it will be a long day for the Seminole offense.

Look for Clemson to mix in a few more four-man fronts to stop the running attack while using guys like Isaiah Simmons and K’Von Wallace on timed blitzes.



FSU currently ranks No. 121 nationally in pass defense, giving up 302 yards a game. Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, and Amari Rodgers have combined for 862 receiving yards on 50 catches with eight touchdowns this season, and this looks like the kind of game where Clemson’s passing attack can get on track.

Florida State has a big and dangerous defensive line, led by defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. Defensive end Janarius Robinson is suspended for the first half because of a targeting call that took place during the second half of the N.C. State game, and that’s a position where the Noles are already thin after losing Joshua Kaindoh to a season-ending injury in mid-September.

Clemson running back Travis Etienne has rushed for 462 yards (6.9 yards per carry) and five touchdowns while averaging a little over 13 carries per game this season.

Look for the Tigers to re-discover the underneath routes against FSU while also getting Etienne untracked. FSU’s defense has been better – better – but has struggled against even mediocre offenses this season. FSU is ranked 109th in total defense, and that number will likely look worse after Saturday.



Who will be the starting kicker for Florida State Saturday? We don’t know. Senior kicker Ricky Aguayo started the season a perfect 3-3 on field goals, but has hit just one of his last five and was pulled for walk-on Parker Grothaus last week (Grothaus didn’t attempt a field goal). Senior punter Logan Tyler was averaging 44 yards per kick but has left the team, leaving punting duties to Tommy Martin, who is averaging 41.64 yards per punt.

DJ Matthews and Keyshawn Helton have been dangerous in the return game for FSU.

Clemson’s special teams continue to be average across the board, even though punter Will Spiers is now averaging over 43 yards per punt (up almost four yards over a year ago) and is up to 41st nationally.

BT Potter is 5-of-8 on field goals, but the return game hasn’t had any big returns of note.



Dabo Swinney pulled the ROY bus out of the garage last week. Uh oh. That means the head coach is already building a chip on the shoulders of his young team. This is a team that’s had to sit around for two weeks after the win over North Carolina and hear about how they aren’t elite or good enough to be ranked number one and shouldn’t be in the playoff conversation.

Swinney took it a step further Wednesday when he went on a mini-rant defending quarterback Trevor Lawrence. That is bad news for the Seminoles, who come in confident but are walking into a proverbial hornet’s nest.

Clemson will be sharp and focused early, and while the Seminoles will hit on some plays in the running game, it won’t be enough.


Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 42-20 Clemson

Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 45-17 Clemson

Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 52-17 Clemson

Brandon Rink - Staff writer 41-17 Clemson

Pigskin Prophet - 45-14 Clemson

Game Actual David Hood Mickey Plyler Tony Crumpton Nikki Hood Brandon Rink Pigskin Prophet
Georgia Tech 52-14 CU 44-13 CU 52-17 CU 45-13 CU 42-17 CU 48-13 CU 47-9 CU
Texas A&M 24-10 CU 41-27 CU 37-20 CU 38-24 CU 38-27 CU 45-27 CU 31-23 CU
Syracuse 41-6 CU 40-16 CU 41-17 CU 42-13 CU 42-17 CU 45-13 CU 37-13 CU
Charlotte 52-10 CU 44-13 CU 59-10 CU 49-10 CU 42-17 CU 55-13 CU 49-10 CU
UNC 21-20 CU 45-13 CU 52-17 CU 38-13 CU 47-10 CU 45-10 CU 48-13 CU
Points - 5 7 11 5 5 9

* Points: 3 pts for best 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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