Generally around this time of the season, eight weeks in, the spotlight match ups in college football have involved teams from the mighty, seven-time defending national champion SEC.
But, on this night in 2013, the eyes of the nation will turn to the ACC for a Top-5 showdown between the third-ranked Clemson Tigers and the fifth-ranked Florida State Seminoles. While this game, the last few seasons, has carried certain conference title implications, it now carries implications in regards to one of these teams eventually playing for the national championship come January.
This week, it’s been called the biggest game in the history of the ACC, and deservedly so.
The Clemson Tigers (6-0) come in to this one having already been given the hype of a national title contender coming into the season, and having a Heisman hopeful at QB in senior Tajh Boyd. They already have a signature, primetime win this year when they defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 1 in Death Valley by a score of 38-35.
Since then, they’ve pretty much set everything on cruise control, aside from a tough outing against NC State a few weeks ago on a Thursday night on the road, which is never an easy task to begin with.
Boyd, WR Sammy Watkins, head coach Dabo Swinney and the rest of the Tigers will be looking to get one more win on the year by avenging one of the most crushing losses of last season when they went to Tallahassee and were beaten by the eventual ACC champion ‘Noles.
Coming into the season, there were only two things that we really knew about Florida State(5-0):
- They lost a lot of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball, to the NFL
- They were having some heavily-hyped redshirt freshman start at QB by the name of Jameis Winston.
Well, so far, we’ve learned a lot about those two points.
Even with the losses, the Seminoles have retooled quite nicely. Those defensive replacements, while young, have stepped up in a big way. Defensive backs Jalen Ramsey and PJ Williams, defensive ends Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr. and a host of others have been near dominant on that side of the ball. They’re coming off a shutout against Maryland two weeks ago after the Terps were considered a juggernaut of an offense going into that game.
And, yes, there is that Winston guy.
Jameis Winston has taken the world by storm, giving this game a bit of a Heisman flare as well as he sets to go toe-to-toe with Boyd. Ever since his opening game against Pitt, also nationally televised, he’s developed a cult-like following with his miraculous ability to escape trouble, make plays and display tremendous accuracy throwing the ball down the field.
Odds: Florida State -3
Prediction: As you can see above, the ‘Noles are actually the favorite coming into this one, despite some of the circumstances against them. If there is going to be a team from the ACC representing in the BCS Title Game, they must be undefeated, so this game is everything to both teams. The margin for error is non-existent.
Ultimately, this game will more than likely come down to who can make the most plays on the offensive side of the ball. You can’t stop either unit, you just have to do your best to keep them from getting too out of hand.
With Florida State having maybe a little bit more talent on defense, they should walk out of Death Valley with the win.
Florida State 38, Clemson 30