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ACC Showdown: Clemson vs. Florida State

ACC Showdown: Clemson vs. Florida State
Kim Montuoro

Clemson is in control of its destiny in the College Football Playoff, but the road is not going to be easy. While Louisville has been the toughest opponent for the Tigers so far, the NC State game proved that no team can be overlooked. 

The game everyone at the beginning of the season thought would determine the ACC has changed, but is still just as important. 

Florida State has suffered two losses this season and is currently sitting in third place in the Atlantic division, but the Seminoles will not take Clemson’s trip to Tallahassee lightly. 

While it is unlikely Florida State will get to play for a conference championship, this contest will be just as intense as it would have been had both teams been undefeated coming in. 

There are a lot of factors that could impact this game and it will be a toss-up as to which team will walk away with the victory. 


Clemson’s Rush Defense:

Clemson’s defense lost most of its starters to the NFL draft so it is no surprise there has been a slight drop off in performance, especially against the run. The Tigers currently rank No. 30 in rushing defense, after allowing an average of 132.4 yards per game. Opponents are averaging 3.32 yards per carry against the Tigers and have scored seven rushing touchdowns through seven games. 

Dalvin Cook is one of the best running backs in the country and he will be testing the young Clemson defensive line early and often. Cook is averaging 5.7 yards per carry and had seven rushing touchdowns on the season. If Cook is able to get past the line and get into the Clemson secondary for some explosive runs, it will be a long night for Clemson. 

Good news for the Tigers is that Florida State’s quarterback Deondre Francois is not much of a rushing threat. He can scramble to extend plays but if the defense plays him as well as they did Lamar Jackson, he shouldn’t be much of a rushing threat. 


Turnover Margin:

 Clemson fans know the trouble the Tigers have had holding onto the football this season. 

They have 16 lost turnovers through seven games, including eight interceptions from Deshaun Watson.

Florida State’s defense has caused 15 turnovers on the season so the Tigers have to hold onto the ball if they want to be successful, especially in front of a hostile crowd. 

The Tiger defense has also caused its fair share of turnovers as well, 16 to be exact, to keep the Clemson turnover margin at zero. 

However, it is imperative that the Tigers work on ball security if they want to have a chance to make another playoff appearance. 


Offensive Efficiency: 

With the amount of weapons the Tigers have on offense, it has been surprising that they have performed so poorly. Most of their drives have stalled after only one or two first downs, due in large part to either penalties or drops. This has not only made it difficult for the Tigers to score points but has also left the defense on the field for too long. 

The defense has been performing at a high level but there is a noticeable decline towards the end of games. This is largely due to the fact they are on the field for the majority of the game and start to get tired. The offense has to sustain drives and take some of the pressure off of the defense in order to succeed. 

In the loud environment, the offense will have to communicate effectively and be efficient to try and take the crowd out of the game as early as possible. Another trend with the offense has been to score early and then take their foot off the gas. 

They cannot do that against the formidable Seminoles team who will take advantage of that and can come back from large deficits. 


Overall, the Tigers have to avoid making mistakes that allow the Seminoles to hang around and get the crowd fired up. On the flip side, Clemson has to take advantage of every opportunity and not let up until the final whistle blows. 




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