If you are ready for some hard hitting ACC football, you need look no further than this Saturday’s game in Tallahassee. On Saturday, the fourth-ranked Florida State Seminoles will be hosting the 10th-ranked Clemson Tigers in a game that will likely determine the Atlantic Division champion. This is such a monumental showdown that ESPN’s College Gameday will be there to cover it.
This has become one of the best rivalries in the ACC over the past decade or so. It was once called the “Bowden Bowl” because former FSU coach Bobby Bowden was coaching against his son Tommy, who coached the Tigers. The Bowdens no longer walk the sidelines, but this has become the premiere game in the ACC for the past two seasons.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney have brought their respective programs to national prominence and both fan bases believe that their team has a legitimate shot at the BCS National Championship this year. That isn’t a stretch considering that both of these teams are ranked in the top 10. However, the Seminoles and the Tigers stand in the way of each other’s potential march to glory.
Last year’s game was a thriller in Death Valley, one in which Clemson was able to eke out a 35-30 victory. Florida State was playing without their starting quarterback E.J. Manuel in that one because he suffered an injury the week before in a game against Oklahoma.
Some may try to classify this game as an unstoppable force (Clemson’s offense) meeting an immovable object (FSU’s defense), but really it is a lot more than that. If anything, it is two unstoppable forces colliding with one another. Florida State’s offense is good–and I mean really good. Against Wake Forest, Florida State’s offense was able to rack up 612 yards (385 of those came on the ground) and 52 points. FSU’s defense was even better against the Demon Deacons, giving up a total of only 126 yards for the entire game.
Clemson’s offense is no slouch itself. The Tigers have averaged scoring 39.7 points per game and this offense hasn’t even reached its full potential yet. Tajh Boyd is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and has already thrown for 747 yards and six touchdowns in just three games. A lot of that production came without his best offensive weapon, Sammy Watkins, on the field. Watkins returned from a two-game suspension this past Saturday against Furman. In that one, Watkins caught four passes for 52 yards and had a 58 yard rush for a touchdown. What is scary for FSU and the ACC as a whole is that Watkins and Clemson’s offense can get even better.
Clemson’s defense is another matter entirely. The Tigers’ defense can be porous at times. They are currently giving up 17.7 points per game, but they gave up 27 points to Ball State in week 2. The defense is still a huge question mark in this game, and they will have to step up to the challenge if they are going to beat Florida State on the road come Saturday.
Clemson may have to outscore Florida State if they are going to win this one. Now the question is whether or not it is possible to score against this Florida State defense (they have given up three points total this season)? You will have to check back later this week to see my pick for this game, but I will say this, this game will be the ultimate ACC grudge match and no one should miss it.