Clemson Tigers vs. Florida State Pick
No. 2 Clemson Tigers (7-0 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Florida State Seminoles (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday October 27th, 2018. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium Tallahassee, F.L.
By: Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -14.5/FSU +14.5
Last week the Clemson Tigers put together their best performance of the season in a convincing 41-7 victory over NC State. The Tigers defensive line proved to be one of the best in the nation as they forced Wolfpack standout quarterback Ryan Finley into a measly 15.4 quarterback rating on the afternoon. Furthermore, the Tigers potent offense shined in an all-around complete performance. In fact, the performance was so strong that it vaulted the Tigers to the no. 2 spot in the polls. At this point in the season, it does not appear than anyone in the ACC can contend with this Clemson team but we know things can happen on any given Saturday. This week Florida State will step to the plate when they catch the Tigers at home inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
Seminoles finding confidence
The good news for Florida State hopefuls is that the Seminoles are starting to find a little confidence. Everyone knows the Seminoles had a rough start to the year when they dropped 2 of their first 3 games by scoring 10 combined points to the likes of Virginia Tech and Syracuse. In recent weeks, the offense has started to find momentum in this new system under Head Coach Willie Taggart. Last week, Deondre Francois threw for a season high 353 yards and running back Cam Akers came alive with a pair of critical touchdown runs to help spark the offense. It was the kind of grit and opportunistic nature we have seen from the Seminoles in recent weeks. In the close loss to Miami, the offense took advantage of several special teams and defensive stops that yielded short field opportunities. If the offense can continue to improve, the Seminoles may find a way to make some noise during the 2nd half of the year despite a rough schedule.
Clemson will still dominate Florida State
Despite the improvements shown by this Florida State team, they still have a long way to go before they are an elite football team. The offense still goes through periods of “what the heck are they doing?” The defense is solid but not good enough to carry the load. The main problem that I foresee happening this week is that Clemson’s defensive line will exploit the Seminoles continued weakness surrounding their run game. Before last week’s win over Wake Forest, Florida State ranked as one of the bottom 5 teams in the FBS in rushing yards. If you consider that fact along with the point that this offense has running back Cam Akers, a guy that broke Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record, it seems incredibly mind boggling. Simply put, this team cannot run the football despite a few big plays Akers has pretty much made happen on his own.
Clemson’s defense will exploit those weakness from Florida State and then give Francois a nightmare with their pass rush. The Tigers strength is their defensive line and they feast on opportunities where they can come after the passer. I expect that to be the case the majority of the afternoon this Saturday. The Tigers currently rank in the top 20 in team sacks and Francois is not known as the best quarterback when it comes to protecting the football. To make matters worse, the entire Florida State offense is not known for protecting the football as they rank 107th in turnovers lost on the year. If that trend continues this week which I expect, Clemson will have no trouble cruising to victory.
Tigers offense is becoming unstoppable
Even if the turnover and complete dominate defense performance that I foresee does not pan out, it will still be alright for Clemson backers. The reason is because Florida State cannot keep pace with this Clemson offense. The spotlight has been on this Tigers offense ever since Head Coach Dabo Swinney handed the starting job to freshman Trevor Lawrence. Well I said it then and I will say it now, Swinney made the right move. Lawrence has a big time throwing arm and gives this offense more of it’s balanced threat. With Lawrence, the offense can stretch the field in the passing game and utilize the talent of running back Travis Etienne to gash defenses up the middle. Etienne is starting to become the biggest threat in the ACC as he has compiled 800 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns through 7 games. The balanced and polished Clemson offense will continue to thrive and Clemson’s defense has a dream match-up. All signs point to the Tigers!
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Clemson -14.5