Game Preview: Florida State vs Clemson

Florida State enters it’s toughest road game this year riding an impressive (for the 2017 season) one game win streak. Clemson, on the other hand, has not skipped a beat after losing first round pick and National Champion QB Deshaun Watson. Kelly Bryant has stepped out of Watson’s shadow and into the spotlight. The Tigers have only had one hiccup, a road loss in a wild game at Syracuse. They have rebounded formidably, beating Georgia Tech and NC State in two close games. Even with the success and a number 4 ranking in the College Football Playoff, this is not the same Clemson we’ve seen the last two years. There are obvious holes, and they haven’t been able to beat a team by more than two scores in the last five games. A lot of fans and experts assume Clemson will absolutely roll the train wreck that is the 2017 Florida State football team, but I wouldn’t be so fast to write them off. Cam Akers is starting to emerge as a genuine superstar, and has become an electric home run threat. I’m not big into player comparisons, but it’s hard not to think of Dalvin Cook while watching Akers scamper for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With Jacques Patrick expected to return from injury, the ‘Noles could absolutely do some damage on the ground against a suspect Clemson linebacker unit. If the FSU offensive line can generate some push up front, Akers has shown what he can do in the open field. Speaking of freshman tailbacks, Clemson has a pretty impressive one in Travis Etienne. Etienne is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the football, with track speed and great vision. Tavien Feaster and Kelly Bryant will get the grunt of the carries for the Tigers, and those two can do some damage on the ground. It will be important for the ‘Noles to contain Bryant, which is feasible considering the game the way they played against Bama QB Jalen Hurts. In order for the ‘Noles to win this one, they have to punch Clemson in the mouth early. Last time this game was in Death Valley, Dalvin Cook scored on the first play from scrimmage with a 75 yard touchdown run. Florida State is going to need big plays to win this game, as this offense has proved unable to maintain consistency on long drives. Ermon Lane moving back to wide receiver has helped the team tremendously, as his run blocking is second to none. Cam Akers will need another explosive performance in order for Florida State to win. Clemson just has too much firepower on their offense, and Florida State’s defense has shown time and time again that it will cave to high powered offenses. This game will be more of chess match between Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney than most people think. I like Florida State’s chances because they have nothing to lose, and I like Clemson’s chances because they have everything to lose. A key will be how coach Fisher calls the game, will he be his usual conservative self or will he spice up the play-calling? Conventional wisdom tells us Clemson will dominate a struggling Florida State team still searching for it’s identity in the 10th game of the year. But I don’t believe in conventional wisdom, so I’ll take the ‘Noles 31-27 in Death Valley. Should be an incredible game, so make sure you have your favorite coping methods ready to use in case worst comes to worst.

Ben Brewton
Writer at Nole Gameday covering football and basketball. FSU alum. Follow me on twitter (@Ben_Brewton) and we can talk sports. On the 8th day, God created college football.

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