No. 4 Clemson at Florida State
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There was a time when the Clemson-Florida State series used to mean something. However, the Tigers have dominated the series in the last five years, winning all five meetings, including the last three by an average of 32.3 points per game.
The fourth-ranked Tigers are favored by 35.5 on Saturday, despite the game being at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. It is the largest spread against the Seminoles in their proud history.
But it is understandable why Clemson is such a huge favorite. First off, the Tigers are coming off their first regular-season loss in three years, so they are going to be hungry. Secondly, Florida State has lost its last three games by 32, 24 and 16 points.
To top it off, the ‘Noles will be without several players who are either injured and out for the season or have opted out for the rest of 2020 or transferred. Defensive tackle Cory Durden announced he was opting out on Thursday due to health reasons.
Durden’s departure is a big blow to the Seminoles’ defensive line, which has already lost All-American candidate Marvin Wilson for the season due to an injury. The senior said he had been quarantined twice during the pandemic.
Last week, Seminoles’ head coach Mike Norvell announced several players were either out for the season or leaving the team. Quarterback James Blackman will be transferring. Star wide receiver Tamorrion Terry opted out and offensive lineman Devontay Love-Taylor joined Wilson on the injured list for the rest of the season.
FSU also announced on Wednesday that quarterback Chubba Purdy, who made his first career start at NC State last week, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing collarbone surgery.
Purdy’s news, coupled with Blackman’s transfer, means the Seminoles are down to two scholarship quarterbacks … sophomore Jordan Travis and freshman Tate Rodemaker.
While the Seminoles are falling apart, Clemson is getting healthier. Head coach Dabo Swinney said the team is trending upward as far as overall health goes, though they will not have middle linebacker James Skalski (groin) or wide receiver Frank Ladson (foot) in the FSU game.
The Tigers were beat up after the Notre Dame game on Nov. 7, as several players got knocked from the game, including left guard Matt Bockhorst, wide receiver Joseph Ngata, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, safety Lannden Zanders, safety Nolan Turner and cornerbacks Andrew Booth and Sheridan Jones.
Defensive tackle Tyler Davis (lower leg), who has missed the last three games, and linebacker Mike Jones (hamstring), who has missed the last two games, are questionable for Saturday’s game as well.
Earlier this decade, the Clemson-Florida State series was one of the best in college football.
From 2009-’16 the two programs played for the right to play in the ACC Championship Game every year. In fact, the Tigers and Seminoles are the only two teams to win the conference every year since 2011.
Clemson has won six them (2011, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18 and ’19), while Florida State has won three (2012, ’13 and ’14) during that span. Either Clemson or FSU has played in the ACC Championship Game every year since 2009.
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Records: Clemson 7-1, 6-1 ACC; FSU 2-6, 1-6 ACC
When: Saturday, noon
TV: ABC ((Dave Pasch, Mike Golic, Dawn Davenport)
Radio: Clemson Tigers Network (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Reggie Merriweather)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 138, XM 193, Internet 955
Latest Line: Clemson minus-35.5
- OVERALL: Clemson trails series, 20-13
- HOME: Series is tied, 8-8
- ROAD: Clemson trails series, 12-5
- NEUTRAL: NA
- LAST MEETING: Oct. 12, 2019 (45-14, W)
- STREAK: Clemson, Won 5
Three other story lines
Clemson attempting to win six consecutive games against Florida State for the first time in series history. Clemson, which was already the first school to defeat Florida State in ACC play in five consecutive years, attempting to push that winning streak to six straight years. (Note: Miami previously defeated Florida State in six straight games from 2000-04, including a bowl game, but only the final game of that streak came during Miami’s ACC membership.)
With a win, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (31-1) can tie the Clemson record for career wins by a starting quarterback, held jointly by Rodney Williams (32 from 1982-85), Tajh Boyd (32 from 2010-13) and Deshaun Watson (32 from 2014-16). Lawrence opened his career with wins in his first 25 consecutive starts prior to suffering his only loss in last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship.
Clemson attempting to become only the fifth program ever to win three consecutive road games against Florida State in Tallahassee, joining Florida (six straight from 1966-76, three from 1982-86 and 2004-08), Houston (four from 1966-78), Memphis (three from 1969-75) and Miami (Fla.) (five from 1957-77 and four from 1981-87).
FSU’s three players to watch
Asante Samuel, CB: A preseason All-ACC selection, Asante Samuel ranks fourth in the nation with three interceptions and second with two fumble recoveries. His nine passes defended are seventh nationally. Samuel is tied for the ACC lead in both interceptions and fumble recoveries and is second in passes defended.
Jordan Travis, QB: Travis has started four games for FSU in 2020, leading the Noles to over 405 yards of offense three times. He has scored at least one rushing touchdown in five straight games played, the longest streak by a quarterback in school history. His 88-yard rushing score vs. Pitt broke a tie with Charlie Ward, who scored on the ground in four straight games in 1992, and Christian Ponder, who had a four-game streak in 2008.
Ontaria Wilson, WR: Wilson set career highs in receptions (7) and yards (117) at NC State, including a 69- yard touchdown catch from Chubba Purdy, who is out for the season due to shoulder surgery. The touchdown was the first of Purdy’s career and the longest of Wilson’s career.
Trevor Lawrence is back. The Tigers could get a couple of others back on defense as well. Clemson has not lost back-to-back games since 2011. That will not be a concern on Saturday. The question for Saturday is can Clemson duplicate its 2018 performance at Doak Campbell? I think it can.
Score prediction: Clemson 59, Florida State 10
–Clemson and FSU Athletic Communications departments contributed to this story
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