Florida State vs. Clemson Preview: Why the Seminoles Will Win

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the 'Noles Will Win on Saturday

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the ‘Noles Will Win on Saturday

Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson is obviously a big deal. And since this is an ACC blog, it only makes sense that we discuss the game as much as possible. We’ve done so all week, but now it’s almost game day, and that means in-depth previews. I gave my short thoughts yesterday, but we want to dive in further. To help, I enlisted the assistance of none other than fellow ACC afficionado Hokie Mark — whom you know from his contributions here as well as his own site, ACCFootballRx. In this battle of ACC powers, he’ll be arguing in favor of Clemson, while I’ll present the reasons why Florida State should emerge victorious. Enjoy!

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Yes, Clemson’s got the big game experience, the battle-tested quarterback and the home-field advantage. Those things are undeniable. But Florida State brings plenty with them as well. For one, “Famous” Jameis Winston seems to be just a small step behind Clemson’s Tajh Boyd as just a true freshman, and he even makes up for that gap in talent with what can only be described as “swagger.” Two Heisman moments already, a ridiculous stat line and almost irrational confidence in his abilities are all important characteristics in situations like this. With pressure looming down, the weight of Heisman potential, ACC titles and BCS National Championships within sight — sometimes irrational confidence is the only thing that can buy you a win.

Even if confidence isn’t enough though, he’s also got an impressive cast of characters to help him out as well. The running game is a multi-headed monster, with a variety of different backs who can also do some serious damage to an aggressively-blitzing Clemson front. Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder are a lethal combination, and resemble Syracuse’s attack enough (with a bit more talent too) to give the Tigers fits all day. The Orange ran for 323 yards vs. Clemson a couple weeks ago, and have supplied a blueprint for the ‘Noles to do the same. In the passing attack, Winston has the weapons to test Clemson’s secondary too, with Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene prepped to burn them on the outside. All of this made possible by Winston and what’s arguably the conference’s top offensive line.

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 7

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Joins the ACC's Power Three

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Makes It Four Elite Teams From the ACC

There’s a huge gulf between the top of the ACC and the rest of the conference — something that has both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, the conference is deeply involved in the national title race right now. On the other, we’re seeing a lot of blowouts, too, which hurts the league’s top-to-bottom image. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 7)

1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 1): Another week, another big Clemson win. And yet, there are still some doubts about whether or not the Tigers are national title contenders. The defense can go cold for stretches and the offense is largely one-dimensional, sure. But given the country’s best resume win thus far (vs. Georgia) and a major Heisman contender at quarterback in Tajh Boyd, this team will be impossible to ignore as long as they keep on winning.

2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 2): As mentioned up top, the gap between the ACC’s top teams and the rest is very large, with Florida State’s 63-0 massacre over Maryland being exhibit A. No, the Terps were not exactly a strong top 25 team at the time, but still, they were still perceived as one of the conference’s better teams going into Saturday. FSU’s absolutely dominant performance, led by both Jameis Winston and the defense, changed all that. And changed the perception of the ‘Noles too, from an interesting team to one that could easily contend for a championship.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (Last: 4): The Hurricanes’ offense just continues to impress, no matter how banged up Stephen Morris may seem. Down 10 early, the group fought back against Georgia Tech, and pulled off the big divisional win. But at the same time, it might’ve been the defense that was most responsible for the turnaround. Holding Tech scoreless in the third allowed the ‘Canes offense to come back and take the lead, especially the dagger touchdown to go up 45-23 with just a little over a minute remaining.

4. Louisville Cardinals (5-0) (Last: 3): Louisville didn’t do anything wrong necessarily against Temple. But as an offense, it’s tough to say their 30-point output against the Owls was overly impressive. The Cardinals are still undefeated and as predicted, this schedule’s already starting to creep up on them. All three ACC teams ranked ahead have better wins to their respective names, and will only continue to add more as the year goes on.

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 5

Jeremiah Attaochu and the Georgia Tech Defense Are Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Jeremiah Attaochu & the Georgia Tech Defense Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Finally, some actual games that matter (a few anyway). The ACC‘s still got five undefeated teams (sort of six), but will that continue to be the case much longer. I’m sure we all hope so… Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0) (2-0): For all but one year of divisional play, this game has decided the Coastal. And while it may seem like a remote possibility given the state of Virginia Tech’s offense in particular, that’s still on the table for this season’s edition of the matchup. But this one’s not going to last long if the Hokies can’t cut down on mistakes. The kicking game’s a mess and despite some flashes of success, Logan Thomas is still as rough around the edges as he’s ever been — and as error-prone as he’s ever been too. Georgia Tech’s aggressive defense should take advantage of those opportunities, while Vad Lee could have the offense closing the deal by the third quarter. Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Virginia Tech 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Miami Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) at USF Bulls (0-3): In the past, this contest has actually been pretty close. But that was the old version of the USF program. The version we’ve come to know lately has fallen on some hard times, and that’ll likely continue this weekend. USF can’t seem to score points (just 12.3 per game this season), though over the last two games, the defense hasn’t been all bad. It’s certainly not the best MIami’s seen though, after facing and beating Florida in week two. Expect the ‘Canes to breeze through yet another contest en route to a 4-0 record. Prediction: Miami 30, USF 13

East Carolina Pirates (2-1) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2) (0-1): Considering the high expectations UNC had going into the season and the way things have gone instead, this ECU game is now a must-win. The defense is a bit of a concern, especially after last week’s second-half collapse versus Georgia Tech, but the bigger issue has been and remains the offense. North Carolina’s line is struggling to protect Bryn Renner and can’t open up holes for the running game either. The result has been a neutered attack that pales in comparison to what we’ve seen from previous Larry Fedora teams. They’ve got to figure things out this week against ECU or they’re in full-on crisis mode. Prediction: UNC 41, ECU 28

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 4: Tom Savage, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Quarterback Tom Savage is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 4

Pittsburgh Quarterback Tom Savage is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 4

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC (plus Louisville) player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 4: Tom Savage, QB/Pittsburgh

After a rough couple outings to start his Pitt career, this is certainly a surprise. But it’s tough to deny the senior passer his due after he threw for 424 yards and six touchdowns against Duke on Saturday. Aided by a miserable Blue Devils’ secondary and their own feisty offense as well, Savage got to play for the entirety of the 58-55 victory, which (not surprisingly) re-wrote several conference records. As he gets more settled, you can see Savage’s potential (very apparent back in 2010) coming to light — suddenly a comfortable passer in the pocket who’s accurate and can also throw a decent deep ball. He’s also got plenty of assistance from his phenomenal receiving corps, as Devin Street and Tyler Boyd have put on some very impressive shows and made his job a whole lot easier. Obviously, Savage can’t play to this level every single Saturday, but the fact that the ability’s there at all gives the Panthers a much more positive outlook toward the rest of the year after a rocky opening.

Honorable Mention:

Tyler Boyd, WR/Pittsburgh (8 catches, 154 yards, 3 TD)

Maryland Terrapins defense/special teams (forced six turnovers)

Terrel Hunt, QB/Syracuse (220 total yards, 5 TD)

Jamison Crowder, WR/Duke (279 all-purpose yards, 3 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 4

On the Arm of Vad Lee, Georgia Tech May Actually be a Contender in the Coastal Division

On the Arm of Vad Lee, Georgia Tech May Actually be a Contender in this Year’s Coastal Division

Three weeks in, and the ACC is not the most beleaguered major conference in the land (high, Big Ten!). It’s an accomplishment — if not on the field, than from a PR standpoint — and as the league’s top teams remain unbeaten this week, things only continue to get better. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (Week 4)

1. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): No game last week means the Tigers will have plenty of time to prepare themselves for a trip down to Raleigh this Thursday. Last time they visited NC State, Clemson was dealt a crushing 37-13 defeat, but that was a different squad. A different (read: worse) defense, and a very green Tajh Boyd at quarterback. This Tigers team is arguably the best one in 30 years. We’ll get to the preview later in the week, but with an extra five days to prepare, Clemson should remain the top team in these rankings without much issue.

2. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): Nevada looked as if they were keeping things close with Florida State for at least a little while on Saturday. And then they weren’t. We’re not exactly sure what the Seminoles’ defense is going to look like against better competition, but for right now, that’s fine. The offense is on another level through two games and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Whether on the ground or through the air, the ‘Noles know how to score, which makes them incredibly dangerous.

3. Louisville Cardinals (3-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Teddy Bridgewater slowed down a bit against Kentucky (just one touchdown), but that’s understandable. There’s simply no way he could continue the video game pace he was on through the first two contests. Lucky him, the rushing attack showed up in a big way and gave this team a little bit of hope too. One-man shows don’t win. So if Louisville’s going to actually contend for a title, it’ll need efforts like Saturday’s, just as much as blowouts like their first couple games.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (2-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Another team with the benefit of an early bye. The ‘Canes are looking good so far, though the defense won’t truly be tested until October. And that’s a bit nerve-wracking considering how disastrous that unit was in 2012. In the meantime, at least the offense looks competent. Miami’s already proven it knows how to win a couple different types of games — blowouts and slugfests — which should suit them well as the season continues. Best of all, that same offense doesn’t look as if it was rise and fall with Duke Johnson. If nothing else, that may be the biggest gift of all from the first few weeks.

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