CFN: Clemson-FSU Analysis

In stark contrast to the Clemson running game, the FSU ground attack has accounted for only 46 total rushing yards in two games.

Clemson (1-1) at Florida State (2-0) 7:45 PM EST
ESPN Saturday September 16th

Why to Watch: From Clemson's standpoint, this game is do or die. Lose this one after the crushing 34-33 overtime loss to Boston College last week, and the Tigers' goal of playing on New Year's Day, not to mention in the ACC championship game in Jacksonville, will die. The Seminoles would love to be the team that puts that dream to sleep for another year after losing to Tommy Bowden's club in two of the last three years. Although FSU suffered a major letdown against the Troy Trojans, it did what championship teams do: win. With the sandwich game between this one and the season opener at Maryland in the past, this should be a fully focused team. Of course, this matchup is always about family when the Bowdens get together. Lately, it's been more about the game on the field. This one should be no exception.

Why Clemson Might Win: Clemson RB James Davis might be the back carrying the running game load, but true freshman and Florida native RB C.J. Spiller has added an explosive dimension to the offense taking a short flare pass and turning it into an 82-yard touchdown against the Eagles. He helps balance a Clemson offense that'll be the best FSU has faced so far. In stark contrast to the Clemson running game, the FSU ground attack has accounted for only 46 total rushing yards in two games. Even without the services of injured LB Tremaine Billie and Anthony Waters, the Noles might find yards hard to come by.

Why Florida State Might Win: Even without defensive tackle Paul Griffin, who's out for the year with an ACL tear, FSU can counter Clemson's strength, the running game, with its strength, the defensive front seven led by two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Week ILB Buster Davis. On offense, QB Drew Weatherford hasn't put up overly impressive numbers (511 yards in two games with two picks and two touchdowns), but he's been clutch at the right time. He's now a big-game quarterback who should handle the pressure well. Who to Watch: With the spotlight squarely on him since he took his first snap against Miami last season, Weatherford continues to make progress in all aspects of his game. His ability to elude Clemson DE Gaines Adams, who's fighting through a shoulder injury, and get rid of the ball on time is a major key to the FSU passing game to once again bail out the punchless ground attack. However, Adams and the Clemson defensive line didn't register a sack on BC's Matt Ryan in 60+ minutes of action. Whether Adams is on the field or not, the Tiger front four must generate enough pass rush to force the FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden to leave his backs in to block on passing downs to help his offensive line.

What Will Happen: Clemson QB Will Proctor proved that he could throw the football well enough last week (25 of 40 for 343 yards and two TDs) to get the attention of FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. Expect Andrews to make life uncomfortable for Proctor through blitz packages and an unrelenting pass rush that could force him into bad decisions. Proctor had sufficient time in the pocket against Boston College and it showed in the numbers at game's end. Andrews and the FSU defensive staff should erode that time immensely. On offense, the Seminole RB duo of Lorenzo Booker and Antone Smith will finally break out.

CFN Prediction: Florida State 23 ... Clemson 17

Line: Florida State -4

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