Pick – Analysis
The biggest Game of the ACC season once again comes down to Florida State vs. Clemson. Surprisingly, it’s Clemson that is the undefeated this time around and they come in as a huge home favorite. The Tigers opened as a -12 point favorite (at betonline) against the Seminoles.
The bookmakers pushed this line up mostly because FSU hasn’t looked all that great this season despite a 7-1 record. In addition, the Seminoles may have a controversy at quarterback after Sean Maguire slung three touchdowns and 348 yards against Syracuse last weekend as Everett Golson sat because of a concussion. Golson’s status was still unknown at the beginning of the week, but it looks like that has no affect on the spread and the QBs look to be on the same level.
As for the Tigers, Deshaun Watson is putting together a Heisman-like season with 24 total touchdowns, although seven interceptions may hurt his case in the end. Still, Watson has led this team to an undefeated record and in line to finish that way ahead of the ACC title Game. Of course, they still have to win this Game, but Clemson’s remaining Schedule is quite favorable if they can.
FSU doesn’t really have a good win on the year and a loss to 3-6 Georgia Tech is a huge blemish on the record, granted it was a devastating loss. And just because the Seminoles scored 45 points with Maguire at quarterback, doesn’t mean he’s the answer. The Orange are 3-5 and have allowed 40-plus points to the likes of South Florida and Virginia. No matter who is at quarterback for FSU, they will have to put up points.
Florida State will likely use running back Dalvin Cook as much as possible (if he plays), although he could find some trouble against this Clemson front. The Tigers are allowing 109 rushing yards per Game, 14th-best in the country and only six TDs. Cook has been dominant for the Seminoles with 1,037 yards and 11 TDs, but could find some resistance in this matchup. Jacques Patrick stepped in for Cook against Syracuse and went for 162 yards and three TDs. If the ground Game doesn’t work, Golson or Maguire will need a top Game and that’s not a certain thing. against adversity in the Georgia Tech Game, Golson couldn’t get the job done. Will Maguire prove to be better when the team around him struggles?
FSU has won through defense and that will need to be the case here, although Clemson presents a tough task. The Seminoles haven’t really faced this level of talent yet.
The Tigers have studs at all levels and it’s not just Watson doing everything. Wayne Gallman has been awesome out of the backfield, surpassing 100 yards in five of the last six Games. He’ll likely get plenty of touches in this Game, but everything will come down to Watson. He’s completing 70.3% of his passes, but turnovers have been an issue and kept some teams around, including Louisville earlier in the year in a 20-17 win.
This spread seems large considering how well the Seminoles defense has been playing. And on the other end it’s not like Clemson is stopping teams, having allowed 41 points to NC State last week, although part of that may have been from looking ahead.
The Tigers are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these schools, while the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five. Florida State has won the last three matchups, but that could easily change here. The Seminoles have not covered in seven straight Games following an ATS win.
Our Pick – Always torn when Our model likes a Game one way and we disagree. Our model has Clemson running away with this Game and easily covering the number. However, we just don’t see it that way. Florida State has the better defense here and in such a big Game with huge ACC implications we’d prefer to be getting a boatload of points with a team that could realistically win outright. Florida State +12