The biggest regular season game in recent history in the ACC will take place in Death Valley on Saturday, October 19th at 8:00 pm on ABC Sports. The Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles have been very impressive this year as both teams have moved the ball up and down the field on their opponents. There is little argument to be made that these are two of the best teams in college football. Clemson finds a way to score over 40 points even against SEC defenses. Jameis Winston and the Seminoles dropped 63 points on a Maryland team that had one of the better defenses in the country. This makes the matchup on Saturday, October 19th all the more interesting.
Florida States’s Offense
Coming into the season most experts knew the name Jameis Winston but they had no idea how good he was going to be. He is a freshman so the only game tape that was available was from his high school days. When trying to make a prediction as to the success of a young quarterback most cannot make an accurate assessment when looking at high school games. The other issue is the fact that Jameis is a young kid that will likely be rattled during away games, right? Well, that has not been the case. In fact, he has played very well under pressure in the two ACC away games for Florida State this year. At Pittsburgh and at Boston College were no problems for this young quarterback from Tallahassee.
Even when Florida State has been behind in games Jameis Winston remains a cool character and he leads his team back to a huge victory. This happened in the Boston College game that was in Chestnut Hill. Something that makes the Florida State offense very difficult to defend is the fact that Winston can run the ball if he needs to. Prior to this year, Florida State has not had a duel threat quarterback since Charlie Ward in 1993. That 1993 team lead by Charlie Ward went on to win the national championship. If the Seminoles can continue to put points on the board there is a good chance they will have an opportunity to play for the national championship in the final BCS championship game this year.
I have watched Florida State play football since the early 1990s and I have not seen a dominate performance like the Maryland game in a long time There were some mid 1990s Florida State teams that used to roll up the ACC. It was not unheard of for FSU to win games by 40 or 50 points. This has not happened in almost a decade. To see the score Florida State – 63 and Maryland – 0 scrolling across the bottom of sports TV stations brought back memories of the past. Jameis Winston has Florida State Seminoles fans thinking this might be the year the team could make a run.
Tajh Boyd has lead the Clemson offense for several years. He has been at Clemson for what seems like decades. Being a senior quarterback means he has been through many difficult situations. Those tough road games in October and November become much easier when a team has an experienced quarterback. This has proven to be true for Clemson with a road win at NC State on a Thursday night. There will be some other tough road games as the year progresses but Tajh Boyd has looked very good thus far. If he can play at 75% of what he has been playing at early in the season the Clemson Tigers will not be challenged by anyone other than Florida State. During the Florida State game Tajh will need to be at his best.
The Clemson offense is one of those new age offenses that likes to get in as many plays as possible. The Clemson offensive coordinator would love to snap the ball 100 times every single game. This is not possible some games but it doesn’t mean they will not try. If Clemson gains some momentum on offense it is very difficult for ACC defenses to slow them down. This is especially true when they play in Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. When the big crowd starts rocking Death Valley it is almost impossible to slow down the Tigers. The Clemson fans are quite unique for the ACC as they have won a national championship and they know quite a bit about college football. This means they do not cheer loudly when the offense is on the field. This allows Tajh Boyd to get the plays called with ease.
If the Clemson Tigers are able to get off over 80 plays in the game against Florida State I would imagine they will come out on top. If the Tigers offense has to sit on the bench for much of the game I believe Florida State has the opportunity to knock off the #3 team in the country. It will be fun to watch an amazing offense like Clemson take on a top 5 defense such as Florida State.
Florida State’s Defense
Florida State is giving up less than 300 yards per game and they seem to get better every week. Before heading into the Clemson game they will have a bye week which will give them seven extra days to prepare for Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. This will play a huge roll in the game. Giving a great defense extra time to prepare for a fast paced offense can make a huge difference. If the Seminoles are healthy and have done their homework this might be the first time we truly see the Clemson Tigers offense challenged in 2013. It is interesting to see how teams react to a situation that is unique. If Clemson has a couple of drives that stall early it might frustrate them. When an offense gets frustrated they often try to do things out of their comfort zone. This is when turnovers happen.
Clemson is one of the best teams in the country when it comes to turnover margin. They average getting about two more turnovers than they give up. Florida State gets about one more turnover than they give up. With both teams being top 10 in the country there is a good chance that this game will come down to turnovers. Look for Florida State’s defense to put some extra pressure on Tajh Boyd. Tajh has not thrown a lot of interceptions in the first part of the season but he has also not been pressured by a great defensive line. Pay close attention to this matchup when the Tigers take on the Seminoles.
If there is one weakness for either team in this game it is the Clemson defense. It is not the case that the Clemson defense is bad but they have given up a lot of points in big games. When the Tigers opened against Georgia this year the defense gave up 35 points. This isn’t the first time a Clemson defense has give up over 30 points in a big game. It is important to note that the defense has played much better since that Georgia game. I will also point out that Georgia has one of the best offenses in the country that has yet to be stopped. I would like to see Clemson play well on the defensive side of the ball in a big game and the Florida State game will give them an opportunity to do just that.
Once again, turnovers could play a very large roll in this game so the Clemson defense will need to create a few. This has not been a problem in the first few weeks of the season but the level of competition, minus Georgia, has not been to the level of Florida State. Florida State’s offense is one of the best in the country and Jameis Winston could be the best quarterback in the United States. He has not turned the ball over much. His decision making is that of a senior quarterback. This means the Clemson defense is going to have to rattle him if they want him to throw bad passes or fumble the ball.
Who Will Win?
The Clemson Tigers will be favored in this game because they will be playing at home. That said, the Seminoles will have a week to prepare for the game. Ultimately, it will come down to the quarterback play. Tajh Boyd is the senior leader of the Clemson Tigers and he is the leading passer in ACC history when it comes to TDs. On the other side of the ball Jameis Winston is the new kid of the block but he has been very impressive. I think the Clemson Tigers will end up winning this game close solely because of the home field advantage and the senior at quarterback.