FSU vs. Clemson prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen in Saturday’s game between the Tigers and Seminoles.
It’s tempting to go with FSU at home, considering Dabo Swinney has never won there and, in the past, we’ve seen the emotional component carry the Noles to victory (see: Sean Maguire’s start in 2014). But with Derwin James unable to return, FSU’s secondary remains ripe for exploitation. And now with Jesus Wilson out, too, the receiving game will be hampered. I wouldn’t be surprised if FSU pulled off the upset, but I just don’t see it – they’re snakebitten this year. Clemson wins a thriller.
It just seems like this Florida State team has been deflated ever since Derwin James got hurt. Well, guess what, he’s out for the Clemson game, too. That’s great news for Deshaun Watson, who will end up scoring four touchdowns in this game – two in the air, two on the ground. Wayne Gallman will flirt with 100 rushing yards, but he’ll be outdone by Dalvin Cook, who will go off against the Tigers. The problem is, Cook won’t get a lot of help from the rest of the offense. Clemson wins by one possession.
There have been numerous times this season that the Tigers have not looked like a College Football Playoff contender. But when it really counted, Dabo Swinney’s squad found a way to win. Clemson will be ready for this ACC Atlantic division clash, and it should once again be one of the better games of the year. Deshaun Watson and Deondre Francois will make their share of plays both through the air and with their legs, but the difference will be the big-play ability of Clemson’s defense. Christian Wilkins, Carlos Watkins and that front will limit the effectiveness of Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook, who will gain 100-plus yards but not be able to generate huge chunks of yardage. A Francois interception late in the third quarter will change the momentum and help give the Tigers a huge road win as they stay on course for a CFP berth.
If last year’s National Championship game and this year’s win over Louisville have proven anything it’s that Deshaun Watson shows up in big games. Clemson has largely been a disappointment this year, despite their undefeated record, as they’ve just squeaked by the likes of Auburn, Troy and NC State. You know this, I know this, and I’d like to think Watson knows this. Expect Watson to account for multiple fourth-quarter TDs, while Carlos Watkins and the wrecking crew on Clemson’s D-line to get to Francois to seal things.
I suppose we are to believe that an FSU team that was blown out by Louisville, lost to UNC, and barely got by Miami and Wake Forest can keep up with Clemson. Sure, okay. I’ll play along. Let’s see, the game is in Tallahassee, so there’s something for the Noles to hang their hat on. And … ummm … what else? Dalvin Cook is good. That is true. I’m still going with Clemson.