College Football Pick
Clemson has one real test left before the ACC title Game, at least according to the consensus. The Tigers travel to Florida State this weekend, a team still looking to find its identity after a less than stellar start to the season. Both teams are coming off a week of rest, so neither will have much advantage in that aspect.
The Seminoles have won two straight since falling to UNC, but neither of their wins have been great, barely taking down Miami 20-19 and then beating Wake Forest 17-6 at home. The same can be said about Clemson after almost giving away the NC State Game, but the Tigers managed an overtime win in the end.
After this Game, Clemson is at home in three of its next Four with the toughest Game either being Wake or Pittsburgh, the only ones with a winning record on their Schedule.
The Seminoles are thinking upset, even though their chances at reaching the title Game are gone. However, it’s going to take a better effort than last year when Clemson won 23-13 via a dominant defense.
Dalvin Cook still had a great Game, going for 194 yards in all, most of that coming on a 75-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the Game. But that was about all Florida State could do, while Deshaun Watson did his thing on the other end.
Watson threw for 297 yards to go with 107 more yards on the ground and then Wayne Gallman added another 103 yards. One of the bigger notes from last week was that Gallman picked up an injury, but all signs point to him being ready for this Game, which will be huge. FSU safety Derwin James had a chance to return for this Game, but it doesn’t look great on that front.
The Seminoles have had trouble defensively without James and will get a real test in this one. While they haven’t given up many points in their last two Games, keep in mind the win over Miami came in a wet Game, while Wake’s offense isn’t good. Before that, FSU got shown up by UNC, USF and of course Louisville.
Even though Watson hasn’t been as good overall this year, it’ll be hard to bet against him. When needed, Watson has shown up and that includes when he threw for 306 yards, five touchdowns and ran for another 91 yards in the win over Louisville. And then considering the success he had last season, the Tigers should be just fine offensively.
The question falls on the other end where Florida State has been off-and-on for most of the year. In addition to that, Clemson’s defense may not have all the names it had a year ago, but they are still playing well, allowing just 15.3 points per Game.
After struggling in the last meeting, it may be up to Deondre Francois to put the Seminoles over the edge because even if Dalvin Cook has a big Game, that may not matter. Francois has been fine this year, but hasn’t shown enough that he can put FSU on his back against a great team. Yes, Cook has been on fire, reaching 115-plus rushing yards in the last Four Games, but Francois hasn’t been able to build on that, which is why they scored 17 points against Wake.
And similar to last year when Sean Maguire was quarterback, if Francois can’t make plays for the Seminoles, it’s going to be too hard to beat Watson and Clemson with just a solid running Game.
Our Pick – Anytime we have a competent home dog, playing a Saturdan night prime time Game, we have to look very closely at that side. The atmosphere, with the rabid crowd and all of the hoopla that comes with such a scenario, can be enough to make a difference in the Game. With that in ind, we’ll tread lightly here, because we like the other side.
The difference in this Game could very well be the Clemson defense, or, the lack of defense for the Noles. We’d point to FSU Games against North Carolina, South Florida, Louisville and Ole Miss as true indicators of this FSU defense. Clemson -4