No. 22 Clemson Tigers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date and Time: Saturday, September 20th, 2014. 8:00PM EST
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium Tallahassee, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Clem +20/FSU -20
Over/Under Total: 63.5
ESPN College GameDay will reside at the home of the defending National Champions this weekend to highlight the top ranked Florida State Seminoles battle with the no. 22 Clemson Tigers inside Doak Campbell Stadium. The Tigers enter Tallahassee with a vengeful mindset this week. Just a year ago, Clemson was 6-0 and in the midst of the National Championship talk before Florida State walked into Death Valley and delivered a 51-14 thrashing on Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. This week Clemson attempts to deliver payback and perhaps derail the Seminoles opportunity at a repeat for the National Championship.
The problem for Clemson this season is they are a team still trying to find their identity. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris knows what he wants from the Tigers’ offense. However, he has to deal with growing pains from some young talent at the skill positions. The offense stalled out in the big matchup with Georgia in the opener. After being tied 21-21 at the half against #12 Georgia in the opening game of the season, the Tigers were held to just 1 first down and 15 total yards in the 2nd half as Georgia pulled away for a decisive 45-21 victory.
As most are aware, Clemson lost a lot of talent last year to the NFL. Quarterback Cole Stoudt is a senior but he still lacks game time experience which was evident in the game against Georgia. Through two games, Stoudt has completed 38 of 60 passing for 446 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick. Not exactly the numbers that Morris expects from his up tempo spread offense that has typically posted some of the best offensive numbers in college football. The Tigers do have a 5 star freshman standout by the name of Deshaun Watson that has looked really good in a few snaps this season but coach Dabo Swinney has rebuked the notion that anyone but Cole Stoudt would start this Saturday night. Either way you look at it, Clemson has to be more efficient throughout the entire game this Saturday night to keep pace with the Seminoles and former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
The Tigers entered 2014 with high expectations on the defensive side of the football. Clemson returned 7 starters on defense including their entire defensive line. However that defense allowed Todd Gurley to run wild in the opener raising some questions surrounding just how strong the Clemson defense will be in 2014. Of course the argument could be made that Gurley can run wild on any defense in America as he already has my vote for the Heisman Trophy. However, Clemson needs to get pressure on Winston this week and force the former Heisman winner into tough situations to avoid any further embarrassing performances. Note: Winston will sit during the first half of this game due to disciplinary reasons stemming from an outburst at a school meeting.
Florida State has not been exactly dominate in either of their first two games. The Seminoles took down Oklahoma State in the opener 37-31 then casually walked through the Citadel in a 37-12 victory. If the Seminoles do not pick it up this week, it could cost them a chance at a repeat and further put Clemson in the driver seat of the ACC Atlantic. The Seminoles defense has not been near as dominate as their 2013 group despite returning 6 starters. Offensively, the Seminoles are just as talented as last year’s team but have yet to take off. Even Winston has stumbled with 2 picks in his first two games, despite completing 70% passing for 626 yards and 3 scores.
Still, the offense has plenty of firepower with a strong running back stable led by Karlos Williams, a dynamic wide out in Rashad Greene, and one of the best tight ends in the country in Nick O’Leary. Of course everyone knows that Florida State is talented but they have not played like the no. 1 team in the country at this point. With ESPN GameDay on hand and a big rival coming to town, we should really have a better gauge of Florida State’s strength after Saturday’s showdown with Clemson.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is the perfect opportunity for Clemson to roll into Tallahassee and give the Seminoles all they can handle. The Tigers have had a few weeks to work out some of their kinks and I think they are ready to contend in this heavily anticipated matchup. The Tigers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 on the road. Furthermore I think Clemson presents a bad matchup for the Seminoles at this point in the season. Expect the Tigers to hang around and make things interesting. Lastly, the distraction created by Jameis Winston this week has forced the team to think about other things than football, which can’t be good. Take Clemson +20