No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson
Saturday, 8:00 PM, ABC
Line: Florida State -3.5
This is the game ACC fans have had circled on the conference schedule from the start, and we have finally arrived at it without any interference. Undefeated Clemson hosts undefeated Florida State in the game of the year in the ACC. The past two ACC champions collide in a match-up of top ten teams and will get the prime time spotlight on national television to showcase just what the ACC has to offer as its finest dish, and the ingredients are mouth watering. A pair of Heisman hopefuls, one with an accomplished career already and the other offering a glimpse in to the future, and BCS title implications make for quite a game.
For Florida State to Win: Attack early and don't let up on the gas. Clemson has had to dig out of two separate holes already in ACC play to come back to win games, including last weekend at home against Boston College. Against North Carolina State and Boston College the Clemson offense looked sluggish and vulnerable. The problem for the Wolfpack and Eagles was they lacked the offensive talent needed to really bury Clemson while they were down. If Florida State's defense can prevent Clemson from getting off to a fast start, Florida State should have what it takes on offense to take advantage of the opportunity. The trick will be to keep the offense working because at some point Clemson will come alive if down early. They have done it time and time again already this season, and this game should be no exception.
For Clemson to Win: Give the freshman a dose of reality. Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been making a number of eye-popping plays and putting up impressive numbers, but this will be hi biggest test yet. Clemson is ranked second in the ACC in interceptions, with ten, and the Tigers own the ACC's top red zone defense with opponents leaving with points just 60 percent of the time. Of course, all six times opponents have score din the red zone they have been touchdowns. If Clemson can give Winston something he has yet to see on defense, the Tigers playing in front of a raucous crowd could begin to control the outcome of the game.
Key Player, Florida State: The ACC's top-rated passer is a freshman who has yet to be rattled this season. As I just mentioned, Clemson's task this week will be to attempt to unnerve the freshman Jameis Winston. So far, Winston has passed every test thrown his way but this will be a different story. With 17 touchdowns to just two interceptions and an ACC best rating of 213.94, Winston is capable of making plays happen, but how will he handle the pressure with a tight game possibly on the line late in the game and on the road?
Key Player, Clemson: Clemson has their own Heisman hopeful at quarterback with Tajh Boyd., he ranks second in the ACC in passer rating, touchdowns and leads the conference in passing yards. Boyd has already made a name for himself in his career and is looking to guide Clemson to a second ACC championship before moving on to play football on Sundays. Of course, a win here could elevate Clemson a step in the BCS Championship ladder and thus boost Boyd's Heisman chances as well.
Key Stat: How important is home field advantage in this ACC series? Pretty important. The home team has won the last six meetings and 10 out of the last 11 games in the series. The winner of this match-up has advanced to the ACC Championship Game each of the last four as well.