Florida State vs. Clemson Pick 10/12/19
Florida State Seminoles (3-2 SU, 2-2-1 ATS) vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday October 12th, 2019. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C.
Point Spread:FSU +27/CLEM -27 (MyBookie)
Over/Under Total: 61
After an extremely rough start to the year which featured a single overtime victory over the likes of UL Monroe in their first three games, the Florida State Seminoles have climbed out of the cellar with two straight wins over ACC opponents by way of Louisville and North Carolina State. As the fight to salvage the season and maintain some program prestige continues, the Seminoles will turn their attention to their biggest challenge of the season this weekend in a road trip to battle the no. 2 Clemson Tigers at Memorial Stadium. The Tigers narrowly escaped a huge upset two weeks ago against North Carolina and will put the nation’s longest 20-game winning streak on the line once again as they look to take full control of the ACC Atlantic Division.
Can we trust Clemson against the spread?
I don’t necessarily believe the Tigers will be in jeopardy of an upset this week and oddsmakers tend to agree by listing the home team as sizeable 27 point favorites. It’s nearly the same spread that the Tigers were favored against North Carolina two weeks ago when I encouraged readers to take the points because of the Tar Heels ability to compete. While the upset bid fell through, it was probably the easiest cover of the year from an underdog standpoint that I have covered. The reasons are unclear, but Clemson continues to struggle to find the explosiveness we have grown accustomed to on the offensive side of the football.
Running back Travis Etienne continues to be one of the most electric playmakers in the country and has single-handedly put the offense on his back on several occasions this season. On the year, Etienne has rushed for 462 yards on just 67 carries (6.9 average) and has racked up five touchdowns. However, if it were not for the Clemson rushing attack, the struggles may be more concerning because quarterback Trevor Lawrence has failed to meet expectations. Once considered the number 1 rated quarterback in the country, Lawrence has surprisingly struggled hitting just 61% passing for 1,131 yards with eight touchdowns and five picks. Simply put, there have been fewer big plays and Lawrence has already eclipsed his total interception mark (4) for all of 2018. The end result is an offense that is failing to produce the enormous scoring totals that we have seen from the Tigers in recent years. From a betting standpoint, this trend is worrisome because you are not going to cover these huge point spreads if your offense is not living up to the potential.
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Quarterback dilemma growing in Tallahassee
Sophomore quarterback James Blackman started the first four games this year and performed relatively well completing 69% passing for 970 yards with nine touchdowns and just two picks. Surprisingly though Seminoles fans seem to be favoring graduate transfer, Alex Hornibrook has helped lead the offense in the last two wins against Louisville and NC State. Blackman suffered an MCL sprain early against Louisville, which allowed Hornibrook to come off the bench to shine. In just two games, the once perceived backup has completed 73% passing for 571 yards with five touchdowns and 0 picks while looking extremely good in the process.
Without question, Hornibrook’s strong play prompted quarterback controversy for a Seminoles program desperately looking for a silver lining in their 3-2 SU start. Head Coach Willie Taggart seemingly put the quarterback controversy to rest this week when he announced that Blackman would start. Seconds later, Taggart also stated that Hornibrook would play as well-meaning the Seminoles will have two quarterbacks on the field on Saturday and will likely go with the hot hand as the game progresses. Obviously, it is not an ideal situation, but at least both quarterbacks are performing well. It could be a controversy based around poor play, so there is some hope that both guys deserve quality time.
Florida State offense vs. Clemson defense
In order to keep this game competitive on Saturday, Florida State needs the best from their quarterbacks and ultimately the best from their offense. The offense has playmakers who can compete. Running back Cam Akers is a talented rusher despite facing his biggest challenge to date against Clemson’s dynamic front 7. Furthermore, the Seminoles have some talent in the passing game that will likely compete as well. In my opinion, the Seminoles offensive success will come down to the offensive line’s ability to protect.
Through 5 games, Seminoles’ quarterbacks have been sacked 19 times this year, and Clemson provides one of the better defensive fronts in college football. If the protection can hold up, Florida State will have some chances. I personally have Florida State’s offense capped at 20-24 points. If that happens, Clemson’s probability of covering diminishes significantly. The Tigers have only eclipsed 50 points twice this season, which was against the trainwrecks of Georgia Tech and UNC-Charlotte. I don’t foresee Clemson posting the huge point total unless Lawrence turns things around. The possibility is there for Clemson to explode for a breakout performance. The probability is not.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Florida State +27