Clemson Tigers vs Florida State Seminoles: Complete Game Preview
In Week 3, we have a matchup of the ACC's best, as the No. 10-ranked Clemson Tigers travel to Tallahassee, Florida to face off against the No. 4-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
Both of these teams will be facing off against each other in a battle for ACC supremacy, and this is a game that could have national implications, especially for the Seminoles, who are eyeing a national championship. For the Tigers, it's about proving that they can win on the national stage after their 70-33 embarrassment in the Orange Bowl.
So what exactly should fans be watching for this time around?
Clemson Offense vs. Florida State Defense
The Clemson offense has shined thus far in year two of the Chad Morris era.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd has slimmed down and looks better than ever. The receiving corps has been solid. Running back Andre Ellington has become arguably the ACC's best running back these past few weeks.
Oh yeah, and Sammy Watkins returned from his two-game suspension last week and scored the third time he touched the ball. And he will be on the field when the Tigers take their first snap from scrimmage.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Florida State Seminoles have put together a top-10 defense in the past few weeks and will face their first real challenge against Clemson. While their defense is talented, playing the likes of Murray State, Savannah State and a struggling Wake Forest team can give you some pretty good numbers.
But the strength to this team is its front seven. And even without their top pass-rusher in Brandon Jenkins, who was lost for the season, the Seminoles have one of the deepest lines in the nation, and a young, inexperienced Clemson offensive line will be tested once again, albeit in a much harsher environment.
Clemson Defense vs FSU Offense
So far, Clemson's defense has not gotten a huge rush of popularity its first few weeks.
They are having problems stopping the run and have not been getting the quarterback to the ground, having only three sacks in three games. The secondary has not been playing any better. While the most points the Tigers gave up was 27 to Ball State, they have allowed too many rushing yards.
So far, FSU quarterback EJ Manuel has been solid and is currently among the best of the ACC quarterbacks in terms of consistency and efficiency. His mobility poses the most danger to Clemson. But this is what Bret Venables was hired for. We will see how the defense responds to stopping this mobile quarterback and facing against their spread offense.
Clemson's Dynamic Duo
Everyone already knows about the threat that Sammy Watkins poses with his speed and ability.
Well, on the other side, Clemson has the perfect complement to go along with Watkins' speed: height. And that goes to Deandre Hopkins.
While Watkins served his suspension, Hopkins took over, catching four touchdowns in his absence, and continued to make the passing game thrive. How FSU slows down this pair will be a sight to see. And remember, Clemson has other reliable receivers to make those catches in Jaron Brown, Charone Peake, Adam Humphries and Martavis Bryant.
And with no Greg Reid, the FSU secondary could certainly have their hands full.
But don't expect this game to be lopsided by any means. And don't think Florida State will run away with this despite Clemson's pains on defense. After all, we saw what happened to USC against Stanford.
These two schools always slug it out to the last second, and the margin of victory will not be very big. Florida State is a tough place to play, especially for a team like Clemson who is young on both offensive and defensive lines, not to mention breaking in a new defensive coordinator.
Dabo Swinney is a tough coach, and you can bet he will have his players motivated to play with a chip on their shoulder, as many are already counting them out against the Seminoles. And you can bet that FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher will have his players eager to topple Clemson's offense and not let them beat them again.
It's gonna a game to make plenty of time for on Saturday in prime-time.