“Nothing has changed” according to Coach Swinney. It doesn’t matter that Clemson is 8-1 while FSU has to win out to make a bowl game. Florida State is just as talented as Clemson and has recruited better than Clemson historically. Clemson has excelled the past three years while FSU has faltered some, but the Seminoles have the horses necessary to beat Clemson.


The one way this matchup will get ugly is if Clemson’s defensive line dominates FSU’s offensive line like it should. Clemson has the best defensive line in the nation talent wise and is second in sacks with 33 (Southern Cal has 34 with ten games played). FSU has the one of the worst offensive lines in the nation, ranked 120 in sacks per game (25 in 8, 3.13 average). Three-star freshman quarterback Sam Blackman is a lean 6’5, 169-pound quarterback.


The offensive line struggles combined with the loss of Deondre Francois has turned a traditionally formidable FSU offense into one of America’s worst units. Averaging 18.6 points per game, the Seminoles average 4.06 yards a rush on the ground while posting a passing stat line of 1285 yards, 8 scores and 7 picks.


Only two receivers have above 20 catches and 200 yards for the Seminoles. Junior Auden Tate leads the team with five scores, while fellow junior Nyqwan Murray has a team high 28 catches for 437 yards. Tate has had little production due to the team’s struggles, but he is physically dominant receiver.  Simply put, the Seminoles can’t win in the air.


Freshman five-star Cam Akers is the lead running back with 696 yards for 5.48 ypc and a team high 3 touchdowns. Backup junior four-star Jacques Patrick has rushed for 421 yards and one score while posting a 5.69 rushing average. Patrick is a physical running back whom NDT Scout Joe Marino listed as one of the best players on the field for the FSU Duke game.


NDT has noted several FSU players to watch for draft purposes. Defensively, safety Derwin James is one of the best players in the nation. Fellow defensive back Tavarus McFadden was an All American cornerback with eight interceptions. Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi is a solid run stuffer and end Josh Sweat is an athletic edge player. While Sweat is not the same after his knee injury, he is still a great player. Don’t forget about Demarcus Christmas either, this FSU defense is talented.


How Clemson Could Win:


If Clemson’s defensive line wrecks FSU’s offensive line as expected while stopping the run, the rest should fall into place. A thin freshman quarterback behind an awful offensive line can’t hold up against a hyper-aggressive Tigers defense. FSU’s defense is tired due to the offense’s failure to bleed clock and the Tigers pile on the points later in the game. This is the simpler game plan that is more likely to happen.


How FSU Could Win:


FSU’s talented secondary forces Kelly Bryant to throw a couple of interceptions and FSU’s offense capitalizes to post some points early. At this point, FSU can run the ball with their two backs to keep the defense rested. FSU would need to sell out to stop the run and dare Kelly Bryant to hit deep throws consistently. Even with one of the best receiving corps and defensive back groups in the nation facing off against each other, forcing Clemson to consistently complete 50-50 throws deep would be a recipe for an FSU victory.


Prediction: Clemson 24 FSU 7