After being bumped from the top spot in the polls, the no. 2 Clemson Tigers will try to get back on top when they play host to the Florida State Seminoles this weekend. Game time is set for 3:30 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
The Tigers are currently listed as 26.5-point favorites at home with the over/under set at 60.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of this week’s college football odds.
Clemson breathed a big sigh of relief after their last game, a 21-20 win over North Carolina. The Tigers had to battle UNC all game, ultimately stopping a 2-point conversion with less than two minutes left to secure a 1-point win. Despite extending their winning streak to 20 games, voters weren’t impressed with Clemson’s performance, knocking them down from no. 1 to no. 2 in the polls.
Nevertheless, we must assume that the Tigers control their own destiny with regard to the College Football Playoff. If Clemson wins out, it’s hard to imagine them not being in the top-4. While the Tigers could face some tricky games this season, especially after their visit to Chapel Hill was no cakewalk, they will be heavily favored in all of their remaining games.
Meanwhile, Florida State may have turned a corner under Willie Taggart. After starting the year 1-2 and losing their ACC opener, the Seminoles have won two games in a row against conference opponents. FSU knocked off Louisville 35-24 and followed it up with a 31-13 win over NC State before getting last week off.
Of course, the wins over Louisville and NC State at home are Florida State’s easiest ACC games of the season, at least on paper. The Seminoles now face back-to-back road contests against Clemson and Wake Forest, both ranked teams. FSU still needs three more wins to secure a bowl bid, which is far from a guarantee after the Seminoles fell short of six wins last year. This week’s game against Clemson provides Florida State with a good opportunity to test themselves and see if Taggart and company are ready to start climbing back up the ACC hierarchy.
Not long ago, this was the marquee rivalry in the ACC. However, things have started to fade with Clemson winning four straight games against FSU. The last two meetings between the Tigers and the Seminoles, in particular, have not been close games. Last year, the Tigers left Tallahassee with a 59-10 win. Needless to say, Florida State has a lot of ground to make up if they want to make this a competitive rivalry again.
One close call isn’t going to change my perception of Clemson. The Tigers have endured close calls and even losses in past years and still bounced back to blowout teams and reach the CFP. With a week off to go over some of their mistakes against North Carolina, the Tigers should come back sharp and eager to play. With the home crowd behind them, I think Clemson gets back on track in a big way and covers the spread against Florida State.
As mentioned, Florida State won arguably two of their easiest games within the ACC this year. Their only other road game this year was a loss to Virginia, so a trip to Clemson figures to be a massive challenge. More importantly, the Seminoles still showcased their flaws in those wins, most notably the offensive line. Even in a comfortable win over NC State, the FSU offensive line allowed eight sacks. Against Clemson, the Florida State offensive line is going to get eaten alive, especially since they also have to battle the home crowd at Death Valley.
The one advantage the Seminoles might have on offense is they’ll force Clemson to prepare for two quarterbacks. James Blackman is set to return from injury and looked sharp early in the season. However, Alex Hornibrook is also in line to see playing time after a strong showing against NC State. That being said, the Clemson game plan may not change that much based on who plays quarterback for FSU. The Tigers have kept opposing teams in check all year, especially at home. They have more than enough athletes to contain the Seminoles and take advantage of a leaky offensive line and give both quarterbacks a hard time.
On the other side of the ball, I’m not exactly high on the Florida State defense. They’re giving up close to 30 points per game this season, and that’s without playing a team anywhere close to Clemson’s talent level. Obviously, the Tigers were sluggish last time out against UNC. But they should have benefited from an extra week of practice in between games. More importantly, they have the quarterback and playmakers to expose a vulnerable FSU defense.
Admittedly, I think Florida State has the talent to keep this game within two or three scores and beat the spread. But I think Clemson’s motivation coming off that close win will put them over the top. When the Tigers want to step on a team’s throat, they have the talent to do so. I’ll take my chances that Clemson will start fast and never look back, allowing them to win by four touchdowns and cover.