Breaking down this week's matchup with a few predictions...
Florida State is the only team in the nation that’s both in the top-10 nationally in scoring offense (No. 3; 56.8 points per game) and defense (No. 3; 12 PPG), and total offense (No. 4; 549 yards per game) and defense (No. 7; 276.8 YPG).
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston makes the Seminoles offense go, who has the ability to scramble – but hasn’t had to do much of it with a precise touch and a cannon for an arm.
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Winston is second in the nation in passing efficiency (213.94), completing 73.2 percent of his pass attempts for 1,441 yards and 17 touchdowns (two interceptions).
In ACC play, Winston is averaging 11.9 yards per attempt on first down, and on third down this season, he’s completing 75 percent of his throws at 12.4 yards per attempt with four scores.
He has a mix of speed and size at receiver and a trio of junior running backs all averaging over 5.9 yards per carry. Since switching sides of the ball in game two, Karlos Williams has totaled as many scores as Clemson’s running backs combined (6), while Devonta Freeman has averaged 7.1 yards per carry and leads the way with 77 rushing yards per game.
Defensively, the Seminoles are one of 15 teams holding opponents to under six yards per pass (5.8) and are also in the top-25 in yards per carry allowed (3.35).
Kick returner Lamarcus Joyner has yet to break one – five attempts for 110 yards this season – but he totaled five alone against Clemson last season for 175 yards. Placekicker Roberto Aguayo is 7-of-7 and 2-for-2 on field goal attempts of 40 or more yards this season.
On the road, they’ve allowed 177 more yards per game (347) and almost two more yards per play (5.42), which has resulted in six more first downs a contest.
Florida State hasn’t put a great deal of pressure on the quarterback by way of sacks (two per game).
On the flipside, the Seminoles are middle-of-the-road in sacks allowed (62nd; 1.80 per game), with a left tackle who’s been susceptible to the speed rush (Cameron Erving) and a QB that tends to hold onto the ball too long.
With two elite teams and the national stage, an improved FSU offense meets an improved Clemson defense, while a stout Tigers’ offense and Seminoles’ defense wage war on the other side.
A loss equals both getting shut out of the national title picture and the conference – with the path to Charlotte wide-open for the winner in the Atlantic Division.
Can Clemson and its 12th defender contain the dynamic FSU attack? At times, they should, but the Tigers will go as far as Sammy Watkins can get open and Rod McDowell and co. can bust through for runs to keep the Seminoles’ defense honest. The Clemson vets stay cool in a tight game to stay undefeated.
Three Predictions & a Pick
1. Clemson breaks up a run of two-straight 300-yard passing games for Jameis Winston and two-straight 300-yard passing games surrendered to Florida State.
2. FSU is held to its lowest touchdown count of the season by at least one, maybe two (scored 5 versus Pittsburgh and B.C.), and they score more on the ground than the air for their first FBS game since Nevada (their only too).
3. Sammy Watkins stretches his run of 100-yard receiving games to four.
Final Score: Clemson 34-27
(6-0 overall; 4-2 ATS on picks)
FSU v. Clemson: Seminoles' offense v. Tigers' defense (ACC play)
|Yards per play - allowed||7.9||4.7|
|Yards per pass - allowed||10.65||5.5|
|Yards per carry - allowed||4.4||4.2|
|3rd down % - allowed||51.5||18.46|
|RZ scoring (TD %) - allowed||15-15 (80)||2-5 (40)|
|Explosive plays (ACC) - allowed (season)||12||4.3|
|Total Turnovers (margin) - forced (margin)||1 (1.3)||10 (1.5)|
FSU v. Clemson: Tigers' offense v. Seminoles' defense (ACC play)
|Yards per play - allowed||6.6||5|
|Yards per pass - allowed||9.7||5.8|
|Yards per carry - allowed||3.9||3.4|
|3rd down % - allowed||40||19.4|
|RZ scoring (TD %) - allowed||14-17 (71)||7-9 (44)|
|Explosive plays (ACC) - allowed (season)||10||5.2|
|Total Turnovers (margin) - forced (margin)||6 (1.5)||5 (1.33)|