Clemson vs. Florida St. prediction: Can the Tigers clinch the title?


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Clemson vs. Florida St. prediction: Can the Tigers clinch the title?

Before the season began, we all thought that the ACC Atlantic Division title might come down to Clemson vs. Florida St. in Death Valley. We were right, but none of us thought that the Seminoles would be out of the conversation and Clemson would be trying to off hold NC State for the Atlantic title.

Florida St. has stumbled out to a 3-5 record, and the bad vibes started when they lost quarterback Deondre Francois in the season opener. They lost in a blowout at Boston College, and they’ve lost heartbreakers against Louisville and Miami.

One thing is for certain – Clemson will get Florida St.’s best effort Saturday. But will it be enough against a contender for the College Football Playoff?

We’ll find out.

GAME 10 CLEMSON (8-1, 6-1) VS. FLORIDA STATE (3-5, 3-4)

WHEN: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2017, Kickoff: 3:35 p.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (81,500)
TV: ABC Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK: (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Sideline: Reggie Merriweather)
XM Radio Ch. 81
National Radio--Westwood One (Ryan Radtke, Derek Rackley)

SERIES HISTORY
Florida State leads: 20-10
at Clemson: Florida State leads 8-6
at Tallahassee: Florida State leads 12-4
Last Meeting: Clemson 37-34 in 2016
Last FSU Win: 23-17 (OT) in 2014
Last 10 Meetings: 5-5
Streak: Clemson won 2 in row

NOTABLE

*Clemson has won 39 of its last 42 games dating to 2014. The Tigers have won 23 of their last 25 against ACC teams. Clemson has won 27 of the last 28 and 44 of its last 47 at home. The Tigers have won 40 in a row when rushing for at least 200 yards. Clemson has won 21 of the last 22 against the ACC Atlantic. The Tigers have won 50 of their last 52 against unranked teams. Clemson has won 52 straight games when holding the opposition under 23 points (dates to 2010).

*Florida State has a 20-10 advantage in the series with Clemson that dates to 1970, a 38-13 Florida State win in Tallahassee. While Florida State has the decisive all-time lead in the series, Clemson has an 8-6 advantage over the last 14 games. Clemson had a five-game winning streak in the series at home prior to 2013 when Florida State won, 51-14. The home team has won 12 of the last 15 games. Since 2003, Clemson won at Florida State in 2006 and 2016. Florida State’s only win at Clemson since 2001 was in 2013. So two of the last three times the visiting has won, that visiting team has gone on to win the National Championship. Each of the last eight years the winner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game has gone on to win the Atlantic Division Championship. Each of the last six years the winner of this game has won the ACC Championship. That includes each of the last two years by the Tigers.

*A Clemson victory Saturday will give Clemson a 7-1 record in the ACC and the championship of the Atlantic Division. It would give Clemson a third straight division title and sixth in the nine full seasons Dabo Swinney has been the Tigers head coach. It would also mean Clemson would play for the ACC championship for the fifth time in Dabo Swinney’s tenure.

WHY FSU CAN WIN

*If FSU is going to win, they have to get turnovers and/or big plays on special teams. FSU is first in the ACC and tied for third in the NCAA with four blocked kicks this season. FSU blocked two field goals in a game (vs. Syracuse) for the first time since 2003 (Duke). That’s bad news for Clemson’s struggling kicking game.

*Clemson’s defense has been gashed in recent weeks, and FSU running back Cam Akers is putting together one of the top rushing seasons by a true freshman in FSU history. The Clinton, Miss., native leads the Seminoles in rushing yardage and climbed to No. 3 on the Noles’ single-season list for true freshmen with his 199-yard performance against Syracuse. Akers had TDs vs. SU of 54 and 63 yards. It was just the second time in FSU history that a player ran for two 50-yard touchdowns in a game.

*Watch out for FSU kicker Ricky Aguayo. He is a perfect 7-of-7 and averages 2.3 made field goals in Florida State’s three victories this season. He has made 14 of his last 15 FG attempts (.933) since the second quarter of Florida State’s game against NC State. He has made 16 of his last 19 (.842) attempts since the 2016 Orange Bowl.

WHY CLEMSON CAN WIN

*The adage says that football games are won in the trenches, and Clemson should own both lines of scrimmage Saturday. The Seminoles haven’t been able to protect the passer, ranking 108th in the nation in sacks allowed in giving up a whopping 25 so far. Defensively, FSU hasn’t been able to get after the quarterback, ranking 94th in the country sacks.

*The Seminoles are at the bottom of the rankings nationally on offense. They are 125th nationally in turnover margin, and they are 114th nationally in total offense. The lack of push up front and the turnover bug isn’t a recipe for success against Clemson’s defense. When the Tigers have struggled, it’s been against teams that play tempo and have quarterbacks that are accurate and get the ball out in a hurry. None of that applies to FSU, which has to roll out freshman quarterback James Blackman, and he isn’t accurate down the field.

*The Tigers are balanced, and Florida St. can’t lock in on stopping one portion of the offense. Clemson averages 442.9 yards per game, 220.2 yards rushing and 222.7 passing. The difference in yardage between rushing and passing for the course of the season is just 22 yards. The Tigers have 2004 yards passing and 1982 rushing so far this year for 3986 total. Only two Clemson teams have averaged at least 200 yards a game rushing and passing. The 2000 Clemson team led by Woody Dantzler averaged 224 a game on the ground and 213 passing. The 2015 team averaged 223 rushing and 291.5 passing with Deshaun Watson running the offense.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

Will this be a war or a blowout? Either one can happen. If Clemson gets up early, I can see the Seminoles quitting like they did against Boston College. What I think will happen is that FSU will come out swinging, but what they do doesn’t really match up against what Clemson does. In other words, this is a good matchup for the Clemson defense. Eventually, the Tigers will get to Blackman and cause a big turnover, and the Tigers will be off to races. But they have to avoid the big play on special teams, and they have to avoid turnovers. If they play clean, they win with a little breathing room.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 30, FSU 17


GUEST PREDICTIONS

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 28-17 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 34-17 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 28-13 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 31-16 Clemson
Daniel Shirley - Sports Editor, Macon Telegraph - 24-14 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 28-20 Clemson

GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki HoodBrandon RinkDaniel ShirleyPigskin Prophet
Kent St56-3 CU47-6 CU56-7 CU49-14 CU47-13 CU52-3 CU51-10 CU55-10 CU
Auburn14-6 CU24-20 CU27-20 CU28-21 CU28-20 CU27-24 CU24-10 CU27-17 CU
Lou47-21 CU31-23 CU27-24 CU31-21 CU27-20 CU34-27 CU28-17 CU34-20 CU
BC34-7 CU47-6 CU38-10 CU45-14 CU38-10 CU48-10 CU40-10 CU47-10 CU
VT31-17 CU27-16 CU31-17 CU28-17 CU30-20 CU24-20 CU24-17 CU30-17 CU
Wake28-14 CU34-10 CU34-14 CU31-10 CU35-13 CU38-13 CU38-7 CU37-13 CU
SU27-24 SU34-13 CU34-17 CU38-14 CU30-10 CU41-15 CU35-10 CU33-10 CU
GT24-10 CU27-17 CU23-17 CU31-14 CU24-10 CU28-17 CU24-10 CU30-14 CU
GT38-31 CU24-16 CU23-17 CU31-21 CU20-10 CU31-21 CU24-14 CU24-23 CU
Points - 8161012101210

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

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