The #2 team in the nation hits the road for what could be an awfully tricky game after delivering another convincing victory at home last Saturday. Clemson destroyed #16 NC State by a score of 41-7, and the squad will be taking its 7-0 mark down south for a date with the 4-3 Florida State Seminoles.
Clemson is entrenched in the top spot in the ACC Atlantic division with its unblemished mark, while Florida State is currently in fifth place with a 2-2 record in conference play. While the Tigers are big 16.5-point favorites for this one, this game will be far from a cakewalk.
When you’re the #2 squad in the nation, the overwhelming majority of opponents are going to need little motivation to bring their A-game to the field of play. That’s especially true for conference rivals. We can safely assume that Florida State has had this game circled on its calendar, but we’ll have to wait and see if that translates into a competitive contest or not.
Let’s take a look at what appears to be an intriguing matchup in full detail.
Clemson @ Florida State, 12:00 PM EST, ABC
- Clemson -16.5 (-110)
- Florida State +16.5 (-110)
- Clemson -800
- Florida State +600
- Over 51 (-112)
- Under 51 (-108)
Clemson vs. Florida State pick:
While Clemson’s mark remains perfect on the year, the squad has been tested a pair of times. Texas A&M pushed them to the limit before succumbing by a final score of 28-26 in Week 2, while Syracuse pushed had them on the brink before ultimately losing 27-23 a few weeks back. The Tigers other five victories have been of the blowout variety, including last week’s thrashing of NC State.
Through seven games, Clemson is outscoring opponents by an average margin of 42-13.4. The offense has balance, but the running game has been the star of the show by far. The Tigers are averaging 253.7 rushing yards per contest. The defense is ranked number six in the nation in terms of fewest yards allowed, and it has been stout against both the pass and the run. The unit is generating solid pressure with 21 sacks and 11 turnovers on the year.
Clemson has had some upheaval at the QB position, but freshman Trevor Lawrence has settled in nicely as the starter with 12 TDs and two picks so far. Sophomore RB Travis Etienne is an absolute phenom. Over his last three games alone, Etienne has nine rushing touchdowns. On the season as a whole, Etienne has toted the rock 98 times for 800 yards and 14 scores. Sophomore Tee Higgins leads the way among the pass catchers with 26 catches for 426 yards and four scores.
Florida State opened up its season with a 24-3 loss to Virginia Tech, and it has been a mixed bag for the squad ever since. The team won three of its following four after the opening loss, and the club has split its last two. The school’s last outing was a 38-17 victory over Wake Forest, which came on the heels of a one-point loss to Miami.
For the year, the Seminoles are scoring an average of 25.1 points per contest while allowing 24. The team leans heavily on the pass, while the defense has been showing some strength against the run and vulnerability versus the pass. The unit has generated excellent pressure with 25 sacks, 10 turnovers, and a defensive score.
Junior Deondre Francois has the keys to the offense. He has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,859 yards, 13 scores, and six picks. Francois also has two rushing touchdowns. Sophomore Cam Akers has been leading the way in the backfield with 101 carries for 460 yards and three TDs. Senior Nyqwan Murray has emerged as the top pass catching option, hauling in 35 balls for 487 yards and three scores.
Looking ahead, Clemson has three straight against other ACC rivals up next on the docket before closing out the regular season versus South Carolina. Florida State has an absolutely brutal month of November up ahead with games against NC State, Notre Dame, Boston College, and Florida closing out its season.
This rivalry traces its roots back to 1970. The Seminoles won the first meeting by a score of 38-13, and the team also has an all-time edge of 20-11. Over the past decade, Clemson is 5-5 straight up and 6-4 against the spread, while the Over has been the correct choice in seven of those tilts. The Over has come in for each of the last two meetings.
The Tigers have been firmly in control of the rivalry in recent years by winning the last three, but that came on the heels of Florida State winning three in a row of its own. Last year, Clemson was a 31-14 home victor in a game in which they were favored by 16 points.
That was only the third time over the past decade in which there was a double-digit spread, and also the first time it was covered over that span. We have another big spread on tap for this year’s edition, as Clemson is a 16.5-point road favorite.
On paper, Clemson is clearly the better squad. The school has its sights set on the College Football Playoffs and legitimate national championship aspirations. Seeing the team wind up with a perfect regular season mark would not be surprising. However, as we mentioned up top, the Tigers also have rather large bullseyes on their backs.
To that end, Florida State doesn’t have as much to look forward to for the rest of the regular season, but you can be sure the program would love to play the role of spoiler against a big rival. When you combine that with this looking like a potential trap game for Clemson in the wake of a huge home victory, and you can certainly see the hosts keeping this one competitive.
That said, we can’t see that being enough for the Seminoles to pull off what would be a huge upset. They can keep it close into the second half and cover the spread, but we’ll look for Clemson to pull away when all is said and done.
We’ll take Florida State plus the points as they make it interesting for at least a little while.