Countdown to kickoff: Another Clemson-FSU classic in Tallahassee?

Florida State's Jameis Winston closes his eyes during stretching, before the Clemson game, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Florida State's Jameis Winston closes his eyes during stretching, before the Clemson game, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

The countdown is on to Clemson football first in Athens (Georgia) and then back in TigerTown on Sept. 6 (S.C. State).

We’re counting down the Clemson schedule – by strength of schedule – with a quick profile, team I.D. and prediction.

The Tigers and ‘Noles have determined the ACC champ four years running – and will again. A look at the reigning champs…

Clemson Countdown to Kickoff

12) S.C. State

11) Georgia State

10) Wake Forest

9) N.C. State

8) Syracuse

7) Boston College

6) Georgia Tech

5) Louisville

4) North Carolina

3) South Carolina

2) Georgia

1) Florida State Seminoles

Quick Profile

Plays Clemson: at Doak Campbell Stadium, Sept. 20, time TBA.

2013 Record: 14-0 (8-0 ACC, 1st in the Atlantic).

Coach: Jimbo Fisher (45-10 career record).

Offense (2013 ranks): Multiple (Scoring offense: 2, 51.6 PPG; Yards per play: 1, 7.7; Field position advantage: 2).

Defense (2013 ranks): 4-3 Multiple (Def. yards per play: 2, 4.1; Scoring defense: 1, 12.1 PPG; 3rd down defense: 8, 31.9%).

Advanced stats: Success Rate – 2 (54.5%); Points per trip inside the 40 – 2 (5.5); Adj. line yards – 16 (113.1); Def. Success Rate – 3 (32.5%); Def. points per trip inside the 40 – 4 (3.2); Def. adj. line yards – 7 (122.7).

Returning starters: Offense – 7; Defense – 6; Kickers – 2;

ACC Unit Ranks: Coach – 1; QB - 1; RB – 2; WR - 1; TE - 3; OL - 1; DL - 2; LB - 1; DB - 2; ST - 1.

Florida State Identity

1. The Manziel corollary? - For all the offseason sideshow Johnny Manziel was post-Heisman-win, he still got it done on the field after being the first freshman to earn the honor. He scored more touchdowns (48 to 47) and improved his QB rating by 17 points (172.89 to 155.32). FSU quarterback Jameis Winston – if anything – proved to be unflappable in the face of off-the-field allegations last year, and he had a touch of offseason trouble surrounding Publix and some stolen crab legs. Winston (6-4 235) led the nation far-and-away with a 185 QB rating as one of three quarterbacks to average 10 yards per pass attempt (10.6) – one of two to average over nine yards per play (9.09). The yards weren’t cheap either – 35 of his 40 TD passes in the first three quarters, attempting just 36 fourth quarter passes (similar to Tajh Boyd, who had 41). Against Clemson-Miami-Florida-Auburn (four-most talented teams faced), he averaged 333 passing yards with 10 touchdowns. In short, Winston’s as good as advertised and not going away.

2. Offense built upfront-out - The ‘Noles have two first-team All-ACC linemen and 114 career starts in total returning. Karlos Williams steps in as a primary back after eight yards per carry with 11 scores converting from a DB role last season. Winston has the ACC’s top returning target in Rashad Greene, who’s among the top-five nationally with 2,465 career receiving yards and 22 touchdowns, and one of the conference’s top tight ends in Nick O’Leary. Factor in the stockpile of skill position talent coming off redshirts or moving up on the depth chart and FSU will have a scary offense.

3. Reloading on ‘D’? - FSU faces replacing its top three tacklers – one at each level in linebacker Telvin Smith (90), cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (69, 4 PBUs, 2 INTs) and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (63, 4.5 sacks). Of course, it doesn’t hurt when new defensive coordinator Charles Kelly can turn to five-star talents like end Mario Williams (9.5 TFL) and safety Jalen Ramsey to take an even bigger role. FSU has had a top-five defense each of the last three seasons…and should be right around there in 2014.

Projected Record: 12-0 (8-0 ACC).

(Way too early) Florida State pick: 41-31 Seminoles.

Analysis: Florida State averaged a 50-point margin of victory at home against FBS opponents last year. That dropped just to 45 per against ACC competition. Last time in Tallahassee, Brent Venables’ defense gave up 667 yards, but the Tigers still managed to keep it a two-score game (49-37). In 2010, Clemson outgained Florida State by 84 yards and was a 55-yard field goal from forcing overtime. In fact, the last four games at FSU have been within one-score going into the final period. It won’t be a good look for the program if FSU runs it up again, and I don’t think they will cover as high as the 17 to 20-point projected spread.

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Comments » 10

Zach_Johnston writes:

Honestly, and I mean truly honestly, I don't see us putting up even 31 against this defense at their place without some help from our own defense (Pick 6's, turnovers, etc). I'm not saying we can't win this game, but I'm realistic when I say *a lot* is going to have to go our way if we want to upset Florida State at Doak Campbell. The defense just has to play their style of defense, aggressive, but poised. No need to play any different against Winston & company than they did against Ohio State. The offense just has to be a first down machine, much like FSU against us last year. Their second drive against us is a prime example. First down, after first down, after first down, only to get points. That's all we have to do, and mark my words, if we do that, we've got a chance.

SoCalTiger writes:

I do see how Clemson can lose to UGA and FSU (like you predict) and still win out, especially against U of L and SC. It is "way too early." I enjoyed the analysis of each game. Good job.

clemvol writes:

Will be good to see a "classic" after the "debacle" from last year.

Xander5000 writes:

I really would like to take our atomic debacle and give FSU one of their own. That will set things half right at least. Then on that day in November, set the other half right, by driving a steel stake through Chickenlina and Spurrier's chest with a huge stamp machine that leaves a crater in the earth.

TigerNE writes:

This will be by far the toughest game of the regular season. For it to be a close game and especially to win, we will have to play both sides of the ball mistake free and rely on mistakes from FSU. Stranger things have happened.

KIMOSAMI (Inactive) writes:

Last year we lost due to a self caused avalance in the first five minutes.....Seckinger fumbles on first play. They score down close. Next series. Seckinger drops easy first down pass on third down, again they score. Then we fumble or some other bumble. Mo was glued to their sideline and it was over.
Just like when Andre fumbled on the goalline vs. WVA in the O bowl three years ago. The whold complexion of the game changed in an instant. Then the despicable soon-to-be fired Dana Holgorsen ran up the score on a hopelessly discouraged CU team.

I think CU was the better on paper team in the WVA game and at least a 40-60 team vs. FSU.

If the rapist is on could be tough in Tallahassee. But it's not impossible.

South Carolina did not luck out on us the last five years. They beat us.

Likewise.....we did not luck out on Georgia last year. We beat them.
We did not luck out on LSU....we beat them.
We did not luck out on Ohio State. Actually, we were far more superior to them than the score suggests.
We beat Auburn soundly two out of the last three times. And if Nick Fairley hadn't cheap-shot hit Kyle Parker while he was down....we would have beaten Auburn in their Natl. Championship year.

I've taken off the 'we're not worthy' vest. Let someone else wear it. Clemson is the real deal and a national power. If you choose to feel differently, you are mistaken.

iptaytiger writes:

If I remember correctly, Stoudt scored on FSU after Boyd kept throwing picks. If we can avoid the turnovers this year, we can keep our heads out of the water, and not drown.

jer620#246036 writes:

The key to winning on the road against a great opponent is always avoiding turnovers and playing good defense. Do that and you have a chance.

f8thwlk writes:

Its asking way too much for Clemson to win this Game. FSU wins this one boys. But on the positive side, and realistically speaking, this might be the only game Clemson loses this year. That's right 12-1.

Clemorange writes:

Iptaytiger thank you! I've been waiting on somebody to remember that. It may of been a score in garbage time but its still not like they gave it to us. People need to start drinking this orange kool-aid. We are the real deal, with Stoudt and Watson we are set.

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