TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Clemson-Florida State game has become the ACC’s premier matchup and one of college football’s biggest games. Since 2009, the winner of this game has gone on to play for the ACC Championship in each of the last seven years and has won the league title in each of the last five years.
Tonight’s 8 p.m. matchup (ABC) in Tallahassee, Florida will mark the sixth straight game in the series with both teams ranked in the Top 25, and the fifth straight with at least one team ranked in the Top 5. It will mark FSU’s 800th all-time game as well.
About Florida State: The Seminoles have won two straight games over Miami and Wake Forest that have put them back in position to end the season on a high note. FSU still has a shot at making a New Year’s Six Bowl game should it win out. Because of its already two ACC losses to Louisville and North Carolina, a shot at another conference title is likely out of the picture.
Florida State’s offense: The Seminoles offense revolves around running back Dalvin Cook, who has rushed for 900 yards this season and has scored seven touchdowns. The junior has averaged 168 yards per game in the last four games after averaging 76.0 in the first three. Cook leads the ACC in all-purpose yards with 1,256 yards. Quarterback Deondre Francois has thrown for 1,876 yards, while completing 62.4 percent of his passes. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and has three interceptions. Wide receiver Jesus Wilson, second on the team with 30 receptions for 390 yards and one touchdown, will miss the game due to a foot injury.
Florida State’s defense: Florida State, statistically, looks like a team that is struggling to get stops. The Seminoles rank 55th in the country in total defense (388.6), 60th against the run (155.1) and 75th against the pass (233.4), but are those numbers really who they are? In the last two games, the Seminoles held Miami to 276 total yards, including just 62 on the ground, while holding Wake to 252 total yards and just 68 rushing yards. FSU is led by its front four on defense. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker (6-3, 280) is second in the ACC with 8.5 sacks, while fellow defensive end Josh Sweat (6-5, 250) is back in the lineup and is fully healthy. When healthy, Sweat is one of the best defensive ends in the country, and Walker already is. Florida State has 24 sacks as a team.
Records: Clemson 7-0, 4-0 ACC; Florida State 5-2, 2-2 ACC
Clemson injury report: Adrian Baker, DB, Knee; Jalen Williams, LB, Knee, will play; Tremayne Anchrum, OT, sprained ankle, probable; Wayne Gallman, RB, concussion, will play.
Series record: Florida State leads 20-9
First meeting: Florida State won 38-13 in 1970
Last meeting: Clemson won 23-13 in Clemson
Streak: Florida State has won 11 of the last 12 meetings in Tallahassee, Florida, including the last four
Stat worth noting: Clemson has won just once in Tallahassee since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992. That came in 2006 when the Tigers were victorious 27-20 on a one-yard run by James Davis with just eight seconds left. Clemson is 3-12 all-time in Tallahassee, and 1-11 there since 1993.
Second stat worth noting: Clemson is just 3-8 when entering a game against Florida State with both teams ranked. That first win by Clemson when both were ranked took place in Tallahassee in 1989 when Clemson was 10th and Florida State 16th. The Tigers won the game, 34-23.
Third stat worth noting: Clemson vs. Florida State is a matchup of two of the top programs in the nation, especially in recent years. Since 2011, or over the last five years, Clemson and Florida State have the same record 63-12. Only Alabama has more wins with a 70-7 record. Ohio State is the only other school with at least 60 wins since 2011 started. The Buckeyes would be tied with Clemson and Florida State had they not lost at Penn State. Ohio State is 62-12 over the last six years.
Lawrence Nation’s Top Rookie Defender?
Freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence has received some notice as one of the top freshman linemen in the nation. The true freshman from Winston-Salem, NC has 44 tackles in seven games four as a starter. He has played 296 snaps, so he averages a tackle every 6.7 plays. He has 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. One of the sacks came on third down on NC State’s final drive of regulation just before they missed a field goal. Lawrence has been outstanding when it comes to putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Seventeen times he has had a quarterback pressure, most on the Clemson team that ranks in the top 10 in the nation in sacks. Lawrence had 10 tackles in the season opener against Auburn and added seven more in the win over Louisville. He has started just four games, but averages 42 plays per game
Renfrow Future Coach?
Clemson sophomore receiver Hunter Renfrow returned to the Clemson lineup vs. NC State after missing four games due to a broken bone in a wrist. He had caught a touchdown pass in each of the first two wins, six point victories over Auburn and Troy. He was injured catching a touchdown pass against Troy. Renfrow came back to the lineup against NC State and, despite wearing a soft cast, had six receptions for 53 yards. On his last catch he suffered a minor injury, but he did not stop contributing to the victory.