David Hood: Clemson vs Florida State Prediction
I have to crow a little bit about last week’s pick – it was a great way to get things started, predicting the upset victory on the road and even mentioning the fact that special teams would get involved. However, that means the only way to go is down, and this week’s contest gives me the perfect opportunity to come WAY down to earth with Clemson traveling to Tallahassee to take on the enigmatic Florida State Seminoles. Joey Aiken in Liberty and Chuck Crawford of Greenville have tried to help me on this one, but there is no help. If you had asked me Monday who I was picking, I would have picked Florida State with no hesitation. However, I have heard little things coming out of Tiger Town that might have swayed me. Or not. On to the pick.
Clemson at Florida St.
When Clemson Has The Ball
Clemson’s offense, and in particular the offensive line, was much better last week against Boston College. The play-calling has improved tremendously the past two games, and if it was important to get C.J. Spiller involved last week, it is even more important this week. Quarterback Cullen Harper has to stay away from staring down his receivers the game-killing turnovers. Georgia Tech was able to gash the Seminoles at times last week, but this is still a fast and experienced group, ranked fifth nationally in total defense. Seminole defensive end Everette Brown and linebacker Derek Nicholson will probably have a lot to say in who wins. Once again, the offensive line has to prove me wrong. As does Harper.
ADVANTAGE – FSU..
When FSU has the Ball
Quarterback Christian Ponder of FSU has been playing better lately, but the Seminole running game has disappeared in many respects. The Tiger defense was, in a word, nasty last week at Boston College, despite not getting the big sack off of huge pressure. If Florida St. wants to outscore the Tigers, they will have to run the ball against an improved Clemson front seven. If they want to throw it, the Clemson secondary will be there. I am not sure that either one is a recipe for success. Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning opened up the blitz package last week against the Eagles, and the early pressures and run blitzes stymied the Boston College offense for much of the game. One key for the Tigers, if they want to win, could be getting a turnover, a pick six or fumble return, and scoring points on their own.
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
Kicker Mark Buckholz missed his first goal of the season last week, the Tigers fumbled away a possession on a punt return, and Clemson had a punt blocked. However, Buckholz did hit two field goals, the difference in the game, the coverage teams were fantastic, and Spiller’s long kickoff return set up the game-winning touchdown.. In other words, who knows what you’re going to get. FSU kicker Graham Gano has made 15 consecutive field goals, including a 53-yarder against Miami. Word out of the FSU camp this week also has Gano practicing kicking way from Spiller (ya think?). Senior kick returner Michael Ray Garvin is ranked No. 1 in the FBS at 34.25 yards per return, making him especially dangerous.
ADVANTAGE – Slight to FSU
Dabo Swinney has 378 less wins than his counterpart for the Seminoles, Bobby Bowden. However, everyone knows that Bowden is more of a figurehead, or administrator, and lets Jimbo Fisher (offense) and Mickey Andrews (defense) run the game day show. Swinney will be very involved with the play-calling, along with Billy Napier, so is more involved on the sidelines. I gotta tell ya something, though – I know Jimbo Fisher and Mickey Andrews have the pedigree, and I know they have the name. But there is no way under Howard’s Rock I would trade Napier for Fisher, and I would have to think long and hard before swapping Koenning for Andrews.
ADVANTAGE – FSU (on experience)
Ok, when it comes to making picks, it becomes less about what you want, but more about reality. In reality, the Doak will be rocking on Saturday as the Seminoles try to climb back into the ACC race. In reality, this is also an ACC elimination game. The loser is done.. In reality, FSU’s defense is fast, and will probably give the Clemson offense fits all day long. In reality, the offensive line is still not good enough, and Harper still too mistake-prone. In reality, this is a big game, and Clemson has lost the big games lately. Consider me cut loose from reality, then. Clemson has more playmakers than the Seminoles, and there was a different attitude about the team last Saturday. Clemson has won three in a row in the series, and four out of five, and has a large group of players that know nothing of the Seminole mystique. In this one, the defense makes a game-changing play, and in shades of last year in Columbia, Buckholz knocks down a game-winner.
Clemson 23, FSU 22
|Game||Prediction||Actual||Clemson at Boston College||19-17 W||27-21 W
||Clemson at Florida St||23-22 W||?