The 'Noles had relied heavily on their passing game against Duke and Louisville, but with the Tigers coming up FSU head coach Bobby Bowden knew that passing was not going to cut it against a defensively tough Clemson team.
"We felt like (Clemson) had one of the best defensive schemes that we've seen all year against the pass," Bowden said.
"They could get in schemes that could really confuse you and it did. We threw a couple of passes in the game where that ain't where the ball should have been thrown."
"We felt like we had to run the ball to get them to play staggered coverages back there," Bowden said.
The ground attack was highlighted by the play of tail back Greg Jones, who broke out of his two game slump and led the running backs with 171 yards, just two yards shy of his career high 173 yard performance against Virginia earlier this season, and three touchdowns which was a career high.
The Tigers may have had FSU's passing game figured out, but the running game was what left them scratching their heads.
"We missed tackles on No. 6 (Jones)," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said. "We didn't have anybody to tackle No. 6."
The Tigers' inability to cover Jones became the most evident on Jones' third touchdown run in the fourth quarter when he broke through eight defenders, one of which was hanging for dear life onto Jones' waist and was dragged along for the ride.
Jones scored three touchdowns, but was largely responsible for a fourth, when he ran 64 yards near the end of the half to set up a Rix 5-yard pass to wide receiver Talman Gardner for a score, putting the 'Noles up 28-24. The drive came right after Tiger quarterback Willie Simmons completed a nine yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Derrick Hamilton.
"Coach (Bobby) Bowden always says that big-time players make big-time plays and that was what I was trying to do at the end of the first half," Jones said.
The Tigers also had a hard time stopping running back Leon Washington who returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The touchdown came just as Clemson scored a field goal to give the Tigers a 17-14 lead.
"Greg Jones and Leon Washington, their two plays took the momentum away from (Clemson) and gave it to us and allowed us to stay in the game until we could wear them down," Bobby Bowden said.
The running game has played a huge role in the 'Noles' success this season, not just in the win against Clemson. In the first three games, Greg Jones by himself totaled 392 yards rushing. Running back Nick Maddox added a respectable 135 in the same period.
With uncertainties in the passing game week in and week out, the running game has picked up the slack when it mattered most and with Greg Jones leading the way, the ground attack is in full force.
Without the power running game that has been the showcase for FSU this season, the Seminoles would not be as much of a threat as they are with the help of the rushers.
"The running backs take on the responsibility," Jones said. "Not just me but Nick Maddox, Willie Reid, the full backs, we take it on our backs. So I won't say that it's just me, it's all of us."