October 19, 2013

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Florida State


There has never been a day like this on the campus of Clemson University.

On the eve of the first top-five showdown in Death Valley history, the energy and excitement are palpable – College GameDay is set up on Bowman field, the students have returned from fall break, RVs are steadily rolling into town, everyone around town is wearing orange.

For a college town, it just doesn’t get much better than this.

85,000 fans will pack into Death Valley around 7:30 tomorrow evening, to witness two top-ranked teams battle it out for a chance to continue their national championship hopes, and the upper hand in the ACC.

There’s a lot on the line, but which team has the advantage?

WHO: No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson
WHEN: 8:22 p.m.
WHERE: Death Valley, SC

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL: Everyone knows the playmakers on Clemson’s offense – quarterback Tajh Boyd, running backs Rod McDowell and Zac Brooks, wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Adam Humphries. But, this offense hasn’t faced a defense like that of the ‘Noles in 2013. Florida State’s defense has held opponents to 20 or less points in 26 of its last 33 games. The Seminoles’ defense has held ACC opponents under 100 yards rushing in eight of its last 10 road games. Boston College (2013) and Wake Forest (2011) are the only teams to gain over 100 yards rushing during that time. FSU has held ACC opponents to 20 or less points nine times in the last 14 ACC road games. There are two keys to the game for the Clemson offense. Can the offensive line hold off Florida State’s front four and create running lanes for Boyd, McDowell and Brooks? And, how will the receivers respond to the physical style of play by the ‘Noles secondary? The matchup of the night will be FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner and Watkins – both of which have said that they are up for a physical fight to determine who reigns supreme. If the Tigers can consistently run the ball, then that could force Florida State to bring up a defensive back to help defend the running game and create space for the receivers on the edge.

WHEN FLORIDA STATE HAS THE BALL: Florida State has an experienced offensive line and weapons at ever position, but the offense will flow as does freshman phenom quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston has passed for 1,441 yards and rushed for another 135 yards, and he’s also accounted for 19 touchdowns in his first five games. Making it easier on the freshman is the fact that he is surrounded by a wealth of talent. Devonta Freeman is first on the team with 385 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Karlos Williams has found the end zone six times, and he has 244 rushing yards, while James Wilder Jr. has rushed 36 times for 214 yards and two scores. Through the air, Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw are tied for first with 23 receptions. They have 407 and 406 receiving yards, respectively, and Greene is tied for the team lead with five touchdown catches. Kelvin Benjamin (6-5, 234) is a matchup nightmare for corners, and he has caught 17 passes for 299 yards and three scores. Throw in tight end Nick O’Leary, who has 11 receptions for 132 yards and five touchdowns, and the FSU attack is formidable. The Clemson linebackers and secondary will need all the help they can get in coverage, and that help will surely come from the defensive line. Can defensive ends Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford and Shaq Lawson get to Winston in a hurry and not give him time to find an open receiver? The key for Clemson’s defense will be to pressure Winston, make him uncomfortable, and second-guess his decisions.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Clemson field goal unit had a bevy of problems last week with two missed field goals, but rebounded late in the win over Boston College with a made field goal attempt. Clemson’s Bradley Pinion has been consistent this season with his kickoffs and is averaging 41.7 yards per punt. Florida State always has good special teams and this year is no exception. Redshirt freshman kicker Roberto Aguayo has made all 42 kicks this season, setting a new FSU record for consecutive kicks (PATs, FGs) to start a career. He leads the ACC in scoring (11.2 points per game). Punter Cason Beatty is averaging 40.9 yards per punt

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: These teams are even in every facet of the game – offense, defense, and special teams. Neither team has a distinct talent advantage over the other. But, what does Clemson have in its favor? Two things. Death Valley – the crowd and the atmosphere could be a difference maker in this game. And most important, Tajh Boyd. When in doubt, you go with more experienced quarterback. Boyd has played in big games before and knows how to win on the big stage. So, I’m going with home field advantage and the senior quarterback…


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele.

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