No. 3 Clemson Tigers (7-0 SU, 4-3 ATS) vs. No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday, October 29th, 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium Tallahassee, F.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -4.5/FSU +4.5
Over/Under Total: 60.5
One of the biggest games of the weekend will take place at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida this Saturday night when the no. 12 Florida State Seminoles collide with the no. 3 and undefeated Clemson Tigers. This was the game that most expected would determine the ACC Champion at the beginning of the year and a game both schools had circled on their calendar. While Florida States ACC Championship hopes may have already ended with two early conference losses, the Seminoles could still shake up the ACC Atlantic and possibly end the Tigers hopes at a National Championship with a victory this Saturday.
This Saturdays test with Florida State will likely be Clemsons biggest obstacle standing in the way of their 2nd straight undefeated season. The schedule is pretty favorable after this weeks game and they would be nearly a lock to make the playoffs for a 2nd straight season. However a loss to the Seminoles could shed an entirely different time of picture on Clemson. Many are still wondering if the Tigers are really as good as their ranking and hype suggest. After all, this is the same team that pulled out 1 score victories over Auburn, Troy, and most recently NC State. The Tigers did get the big victory over Louisville at home with College GameDay on hand and the entire nation watching but the argument could still be made that they have looked very mediocre at points throughout the season.
Perhaps that argument could be silenced if they can go into Tallahassee Saturday night and come away with the win. Everyone can expect that Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles will be ecstatic at the opportunity to knock off Clemson this Saturday. Therefore, if you may be questioning whether you will see the Seminoles team that was routed by Louisville earlier this year then I would think twice about it. In recent weeks, running back Dalvin Cook has looked like the rusher we saw in 2015 when he racked up nearly 1,700 yards and 19 scores on the ground. After a slow start to 2016, Cook has racked up rushing totals of 267, 140, 150, and 115 in the last 4 games with 6 total touchdowns during that time period.
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The Seminoles offense relies heavily on the ground attack therefore when Cook is running the ball well; everything else just falls into place. Freshman quarterback Deondre Francois is starting to become more comfortable in the pocket. Sure there have been some growing pains but the freshman has had 2 300 yard performances in the last 3 outings and has actually averaged 300 yards over the last 3 games. Clemson has been excellent against the pass ranking 7th overall and allowing just 166 yards per game. Therefore, I doubt this matchup bodes extremely well for Francois individually and better for Florida States running game with Cook. However, rest assured that Florida State is going to need a few big plays from their quarterback if they are going to deliver the upset.
On the other side of the ball, the Seminoles defense has received a lot of bad attention this year. Normally the strength of Jimbo Fishers teams in Tallahassee has become one of their weaknesses. The Florida State defense was destroyed by Louisville to the tune of 63 points and gave up 37 points in the loss to UNC. Despite wins over Ole Miss and South Florida, the defense still gave up point totals of 34 and 35 in those games as well. They will have to be much better against a really dangerous Clemson offense this week led by quarterback Deshaun Watson.
I know I mentioned earlier that Clemsons offense has looked mundane at times this season but they have also shown the quick striking ability that has been at the forefront of their success of the last two years. Watson has still been very strong with 20 touchdown passes and 1,950 yards through the first 7 games. That pace is very similar to the 2015 total of more than 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. The interceptions have increased a bit but overall Watson has done a great job of throwing the football. Perhaps the biggest change in this years offense is that they have been less explosive on the ground.
In 2015, Watson eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing and running back Wayne Gallman had over 1,500 yards on the ground. Together the two weapons combined for 25 touchdowns last year as Clemson was one of the most dangerous teams not only through the air but also on the ground. This season the offense has been much more one sided with their passing attack as both Gallman and Watson have combined for just 768 yards with 6 touchdowns on the ground through the opening 7 games. For Clemson to get to hit their full potential, they need to establish a bigger running presence and that starts this weekend as they look to keep Florida States defense off balance with a mix between the run and the pass.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I think this is the perfect spot for Florida State to deliver their first big impressive performance on the year at home in a primetime nationally spotlight. This will be Clemsons first big road test of the year and I think they fail to pull this one out. Take Florida State +4.5