Clemson, FSU set up for another Atlantic Division showdown

Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. scores at touchdown past Clemson safety Rashard Hall and Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. scores at touchdown past Clemson safety Rashard Hall and Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian in the second quarter.

Clemson is the near unanimous ACC-favorite for 2013…except at magazine-madman Phil Steele’s publication.

Why? He has Florida State as his No. 1 “surprise” team in the nation.

“While a lot of talent departs, a lot returns and they rank in my top 12 in the country in seven of eight positions,” Steele writes. “…FSU has a bye before Clemson and Idaho before Florida so this is very talented team is capable of running the table and will not be ranked in the top 10 (preseason).

“I feel they have the best shot of any non top 10 team of winning the national title this year.”

Clemson checks in at No. 7 on the surprise team list.

“They get a bye before facing the Georgia Tech option,” Steele writes, “and get Florida State at home. That could mean their trip to rival South Carolina could be for an unbeaten season if the chips fall right.”

Also making the top-15 is Virginia Tech (10), Miami (12) and LSU (13).

In national stats, Steele has Clemson projected with the No. 9 total offense – No. 10 passing offense and No. 11 scoring offense. He projects FSU with the nation’s highest scoring offense and fifth-best total offense adjusted against the strength of schedule.

On the schedules, Clemson is going from playing the 53rd-best schedule in 2012 and to a projected 55th-ranked in 2013. For FSU, it’s from No. 70 to No. 64.

Comparing Projections

We did our own offensive outlook here, but here’s how it compares to Steele’s numbers…

Total Offense: O&W – 512 YPG/38 PPG; Steele – 522.3 YPG/39.5 PPG.

Rush Offense: O&W – 201 YPG; Steele – 192.4 YPG.

Pass Offense: O&W – 311 YPG; Steele – 329.9 YPG.

Defense Outlook: Steele – 149.5 RY (+6.4 better than ‘12 YPG); 223.5 PY (+16.8 YPG); 373 YPG (+23.2). 24.1 PPG (+0.7).

FSU: Steele – 108.6 RY (10th nationally; 161.8 PY (2nd nationally); 270.4 YPG; 14.1 PPG (2nd nationally).

Thoughts: Steele has Clemson +10 in yards per game, while -1.5 points per game from last season, which is a little suspect, but the defensive numbers look about right. That would make Clemson a top-40 total and scoring defense, which could go up with if the secondary improves even more.

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