Record: 6-0 (4-0 ACC)
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
All-Time: FSU leads 18-8
Overview: Coming into the season the vast majority of experts had Clemson pegged to win the ACC -- and for good reason. This might be the most complete team that Clemson has fielded in recent memory. Everybody is well acquainted with Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins by now. The Clemson offense has been a powerhouse for the last few years and once again are carrying the team to the tune of the 40 points per game.
Boyd -- in his final season -- has 1783 passing yards and 15 touchdowns while Watkins has 582 receiving yards and four scores.
This year however, Clemson's defense can not be accused of holding the team back. Now in their second season with Will Venables as the defensive coordinator, the Tigers finally have a defense to match their impressive offense.
"As you learn what to do -- as I say all the time -- you gain confidence. Then your athletic ability starts to come out as you feel more comfortable in what you’re doing and your assignments and how quick you can do them," said FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher. "They play very fast, very physical. They’re leading the country in sacks and negative plays, they’ve got dynamic guys that can rush the passer, but they’re also very physical inside."
All that, and Clemson will have the benefit of one of the loudest venues in the country backing them too.
How FSU Stacks Up: The Seminoles will look -- first and foremost -- to take the crowd out of the game. With a redshirt freshman quarterback and a defense that is still adjusting in its new system under Jeremy Pruitt, the crowd noise will be a factor whether FSU wants to admit it or not.
As for what happens on the field, the Tigers and Seminoles both boast dynamic offenses and defenses that are capable of creating turnovers and big plays. The Florida State secondary has gone largely untested this season -- that changes today. Tajh Boyd and the Clemson passing attack will look for ways to cause problems all night.
Last year FSU was able to limit Sammy Watkins in their 49-37 win, they will attempt to limit him again but that doesn't mean Watkins' impact won't still be fet.
“That’s another thing I respect Watkins on, never seen this guy cry for the ball," said senior DB Lamarcus Joyner. "You know week in and week out you’re going to always have teams that gameplan for one guy and if you can decoy one side of the field and free up other players to make plays, Clemson does a pretty good job of that.”
The bigger issue for Florida State could be Tajh Boyd's legs. FSU did a good job of shutting down CJ Brown a couple weeks ago against Maryland but Boyd has more weapons and runs with more power. Oftentimes Boyd will escape up the middle and he doesn't mind puting his shoulder down either. FSU will have plenty to pay attention to on every offensive snap and that includes where Boyd is and whether he's about to take off.
On the offensive side of the ball it will largely come down to the Florida State offensive line against the Clemson defensive front. Clemson creates a lot of pressure, the stadium will be noisy and at times FSU has struggled to protect Winston. If that happens tonight it could spell bad news for Florida State.
"When they talk about defenses, defensive lines, [with] the line that I have, that doesn't really phase me," said Jameis Winston on Wednesday. "I mean they have great players, but I'm so confident in my line -- it's probably just for me being a young quarterback and those guys carrying me the whole season -- but I don't think they're going to choose one game to just let me down."
Three to Watch:
1.) Tajh Boyd - With all the talk about Jameis Winston, the redshirt senior QB is looking to remind people who he is and why he's a Heisman candidate.
2.) Vic Beasley - A disruptive force from the defensive line who will look to wreak havoc in the Seminole backfield all night.
3.) Sammy Watkins - Even when he's just the decoy Watkins still finds ways to make an impact.
Quote of the Week: "I respect the philosophy that coach Pruitt said in the meeting room today it’s going to be a street fight, I mean you’ve just got to get ready to fight those guys. You don’t know if you’re going to get knocked out or if you’re going to knock them out you pretty much just have to keep fighting. We don’t care about the scoreboard, long as we can pull out a win."
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