Clemson vs. Florida State: Players to Watch in Epic ACC Showdown

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates their 26-19 win over the Auburn Tigers with the leather helmet at Georgia Dome on September 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The ACC showdown between No. 10 Clemson and No. 4 Florida State on Saturday will be filled with stars, on both sides of the ball.

Both teams are 3-0 to start the 2012-13 campaign and both boast game-changers on offense and defense.

Clemson is averaging 39.7 points per game this season, 23rd in the nation. Florida State has allowed a grand total of three points in three games.

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, this is gonna be a firestorm.

Here are some explosive players to watch on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson

How Tajh Boyd handles the pressure that will inevitably come with facing Florida State's vaunted defensive front will be key for Clemson.

Boyd passed for over 3,800 yards and 33 touchdowns to 12 interceptions last season as the Tigers went 10-3 in the regular season, earning a trip to the Orange Bowl. He also rushed for 218 yards and five touchdowns.

This season, Boyd has completed over 73 percent of his passes while averaging 8.7 yards per attempt and tossing six touchdowns to one interception. He's thrown five touchdowns and zero interceptions in his past two games.

He went 22-of-35 for 344 yards and three touchdowns last season in Clemson's 35-30 victory over Florida State, adding a rushing touchdown along the way.

E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

E.J. Manuel had a solid season in his first year as starter in 2011-12, passing for over 2,600 yards while averaging 8.57 yards per attempt and tossing 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions.

This season, the senior has completed over 71 percent of his passes while averaging 8.9 yards per attempt and tossing six touchdowns to one interception.

Like Boyd, Manuel has posted five touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last two games.

He went 24-of-38 for 336 yards and three touchdowns to one interception last season against Clemson.

Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson

After rushing for over 1,100 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns last season, senior Andre Ellington has been a beast this season, racking up 328 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and four touchdowns in three games.

On the other hand, the Seminoles defense has allowed just 1.2 yards per carry so far (best in the FBS) and zero rushing touchdowns. Also, Ellington averaged just 3.1 yards per carry against Florida State last season.

There's also this little tidbit from ESPN: "Florida State has held opponents to no gain or negative yards on 47 percent of rushing attempts, the best in the nation."

A stat like that shouldn't even be possible in the real world.

Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

And then we have junior defensive end Bjoern Werner. 

Or, as I like to call him, "That guy from Florida State who terrorizes offenses everywhere."

After an eye-opening sophomore year last season, Werner has exploded this season, notching nine tackles for loss, a nation-high 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble in three games.

Boyd hasn't been sacked in his last two games, but he was sacked four times in the season opener at Auburn.

Sammy Watkins/DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson

In his first game back from a suspension in Week 3, sophomore Sammy Watkins caught four balls for 52 yards and ran for a 58-yard touchdown against Furman.

However, in Watkins' absence in the first two weeks, junior DeAndre Hopkins was a beast, racking up a combined 224 receiving yards and four touchdowns against Auburn and Ball State. He also had seven catches for 95 yards against Furman.

Watkins could have been a first-round pick in the NFL draft this year if he declared. Hopkins is making sure nobody forgets about him.

On the other hand, Florida State has allowed opponents to complete just 40.3 percent of their passes and ceded 69.7 passing yards per game (zero passing touchdowns), both marks best in the FBS.

To say this game is going to be electric would be an understatement.

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