September 23, 2011

Who gets the keys and who’s riding shotgun? Clemson vs. FSU game prediction.

_39 Clemson-AuburnAccording to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, the Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles are playing to decide who has the keys and who’s in the back seat for the trip up I-85 to the ACC Championship game.

“Whoever wins this game is in the driver’s seat [to win the Atlantic],” Swinney said Tuesday. “The loser is still in the car but they aren’t driving.”

This game is why young men come to Clemson- to win championships.

It’s 80,000 of their biggest fans losing their voices. It’s Solid Orange. It’s the most exciting 25 seconds in college football. It’s taking on a ranked FSU squad. It’s playing against a top- five defense. It’s defending your home turf. It’s putting the FSU war chant and tomahawk chop on mute. It’s sending the Seminoles home with a loss for the fifth straight time.

Let’s check out the match ups for this week’s ACC showdown.


If you can figure out who will be starting at quarterback for the Seminoles then you should probably consider finding a job as a psychic or fortune teller because I’m not even sure the FSU coaches know. All indications are that red-shirt freshman Clint Trickett will be making his first start after EJ Manuel suffered a shoulder injury against Oklahoma last Saturday. This season Trickett is 14-for-23 for 111 yards and four touchdowns. If he starts, look for the Clemson defense to blitz all afternoon to get pressure on the young quarterback and force him into some mistakes. Manuel, however, is more of a dual threat quarterback and the Tiger defense will have to respect his ability to run- at least until Rennie Moore and the defensive line take a few shots at his injured shoulder. With the lack of a successful running game-FSU ranks 99th in the country in rushing yards per game- Clemson will make the FSU quarterbacks beat them through the air. FSU is very banged up on offense- a hurt quarterback and only four healthy wide receivers- so if the Clemson defense can stop the big play, then…ADVANTAGE –CLEMSON


The Clemson offense exploded on the scene last week gaining over 600 yards against Auburn, the defending national champions. Freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd received national accolades and praise from the national pundits. The Clemson offense will have to sustain that momentum and get off to a quicker start if they want have success against a top-five ranked FSU defense. Tight end Dwayne Allen should be another big target for Boyd this week since the Seminoles run a similar defense to Auburn, but with better athletes. Once again, the key to the game will be the offensive line and how well they can protect Boyd against a very good defensive front from FSU. Look for the Seminoles to try and stop Watkins which will give another young player the chance to step up and make a name for himself. Clemson has yet to be tested like they will be against a Florida State defense that has only allowed three touchdowns so far this season. ADVANTAGE- FLORIDA STATE


Every Clemson fan and player remembers that feeling as FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins nailed a 55-yard field goal as time expired to give the Seminoles the victory in Doak Campbell Stadium last year. Hopkins is 6-for-6 on field goals this year with a long of 53 yards against Oklahoma. Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro seemingly got over his kicking woes last week against Auburn as he was perfect on both field goals and extra points. Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman could once again be a game changer and can flip the field with one of his booming kicks. Because of Hopkins’ ability to make the clutch kick, FSU has the upper hand on special teams. ADVANTAGE- FLORIDA STATE


Last week the key to the game was which defense would step up and make one stop that the other team couldn’t. This week Clemson’s defense will have to apply the pressure and force the already shaky FSU offense into mistakes and turnovers. If Tajh Boyd can continue to manage the game and get the ball to his play makers behind a much improved offensive line, the Tigers can continue their winning streak against the Noles in Death Valley.

I was happily surprised and willing to eat crow last week and I need the Tigers to prove me wrong again.

My heart says Clemson wins, but X’s and O’s say the Seminoles leave the Valley with the win.


Post authored by Clemson Girl sports blogger, Nikki Steele.


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