The Clemson-Florida State series has become the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best series, but lately, the Tigers have grabbed control of it. Clemson has won the last four meetings and today it will look to become the first team in the ACC to beat the Seminoles five straight years.
Today’s 3:30 p.m., kickoff from Memorial Stadium in Clemson has many storylines, but none is bigger than the effectiveness of the Tigers’ offense. Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) has been inconsistent thus far on the offensive side of the football. It is coming off a game at North Carolina where it was called for six pre-snap penalties and overall did not play well.
Florida State (3-2, 2-1 ACC) has won its last two games and three of its last four and is feeling good about itself heading into today’s matchup with the Tigers.
So, who has the edge?
Cam Ackers vs. Clemson’s run defense: Dabo Swinney said this week his run defense played soft against Charlotte and North Carolina. Though the Seminoles are averaging just 121.2 yards per game, Ackers is averaging 116.4 of those yards. FSU offensive coordinator Kendal Briles does not give up on the run and will continue to hand the ball to Ackers even if he is getting just two yards. Eventually, it wears on the defense and Ackers breaks off a long run. Clemson has given up 153 and 146 yards on the ground to Charlotte and UNC the last two games and allowed Georgia Tech to rush for 157 yards in Week 1. Swinney has challenged his run defense to slow Ackers down and become more physical at the point of attack. Advantage: Florida State
Trevor Lawrence vs. Florida State’s secondary: Though the Seminoles are coming off a game in which it held NC State to just 13 points, its passing defense is allowing 302.2 yards per game, which ranks 107th nationally. Trevor Lawrence and his band of wide receivers, led by Tee Higgins, has to be licking their chops. This is the kind of defense that can cure the ailments that have been plaguing the offense this season. A lot of people want to know what is wrong with Lawrence. Swinney insist there is nothing wrong with his star quarterback. He will have an opportunity today to get on a track against a pass defense that has allowed a ton of big plays this season. Advantage: Clemson
Travis Etienne vs. Florida State DT Marvin Wilson: Since he rushed for a career high 205 yards and scored three touchdowns against Georgia Tech in Week 1, Clemson running back Travis Etienne has run for just 257 yards and two touchdowns combined in the last four games. He has averaged just 4.7 yards per carry in those four games. Clemson will want to get Etienne on track this week, but to do it, the Tigers must stop Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who so far is having an All-American caliber season in the middle of the Seminoles’ defensive front. The defensive captain has 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one pass breakup, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble already this season. Against Louisville, he led FSU with a career-high 10 tackles, including a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. His 3.5 TFL were the most in a game for a Nole since 2017. Clemson is averaging 222.6 yards per game on the ground. The ‘Noles are allowing 144.8. Advantage: Clemson
Bottom line: This game will be closer than the experts think. Florida State is still a talented team that is playing with a lot of confidence. The Seminoles’ depth is not as good as it once was, and they still are having issues on the offensive line. However, quarterbacks James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook, along with their speedy wide receivers, will challenge Clemson’s defensive secondary. The two quarterbacks have combined for 15 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions this year and are completing more than 70 percent of their passes. The Tigers will use their depth to their advantage and will wear down the Seminoles in the second half to gain control of the game.
Prediction: Clemson 34, Florida State 20
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