The last decade of ACC football has been dominated by Clemson and Florida State, but the Seminoles are struggling mightily this season, and have certainly fallen way off since it won the 2013 national title.
Clemson had a week off after its loss to Notre Dame, and it was an opportunity to get healthy, and to let the frustration of its loss to the Irish boil over. This game is either going to be the Tigers not being focused after the loss and looking ahead to the rematch against Notre Dame, or it will be a game where Clemson is ticked off and is looking to take its anger out on the Seminoles.
The Irish Breakdown staff has broken down this game and is set to make its predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Clemson 55, Florida State 6
This game is going to be very, very ugly. Clemson finds itself in a unique position, and that is of a team that has to prove something to the CFP committee now that it has an in-season loss. To make matters worse for Florida State, the Tigers got an extra week to think about their loss to Notre Dame, which means this will likely be a very ticked off, and well-rested Clemson team.
Florida State has been bad all season, but now they are bad and banged up. The Seminoles will be without many of the top players they had back when they faced Notre Dame and competed. Clemson is vulnerable on offense in the trenches, but the FSU defensive line is a shell of its former self.
Clemson will want to get quarterback Trevor Lawrence into an early groove, but they'll also look to get the ground game going. I expect a heavy dose of Travis Etienne and some downfield play-action throws off of that run action. Big plays and a lot of points is what I expect from the Clemson offense.
Defensively, the Tigers are going to be a bit healthier, and that side of the ball needed a big-time rest. The defensive line should be fresher and the secondary had extra time to work out some kinks. Florida State also doesn't have the weapons to expose what has been a vulnerable Tiger secondary.
FSU will have a hard time moving the ball, and it has little chance to slow down the Clemson offense.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Clemson 56, Florida State 17
I think Clemson has a rather huge chip residing on their shoulders coming off the loss in South Bend, not to mention the fact that quarterback Trevor Lawrence is back at the helm.
There is a case to be made for rust with Lawrence, but after two full weeks of practicing, I just do not see it. The defense could give up a few points late but the situation will never be in doubt. Lawrence and the Tigers will make a big splash back into the national spotlight and remind everyone why they are a perennial power.
RYAN PALMERI, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 63, Florida State 17
Florida State has been a total disaster all season and Clemson won't be the game they turn it around. The real question is how many points does Clemson want to put up. I'd expect the starters to start getting pulled in the third quarter with the game already out of hand.
BRIAN SMITH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 48, Florida State 17
Clemson 48, Florida State 17
Make no mistake, the Tigers will trounce the Seminoles in epic fashion; this will be a statement game. Florida State's inconsistent defense will be exposed over and over, due in large part to Trevor Lawrence's return to the lineup.
Look for Clemson to play better defense as well, as the Tigers are coming off a much needed bye week. Running back Travis Etienne may not be running behind a stellar line, but he will still find the end zone a couple of times.
Florida State's offense is still developing, and facing the Brent Venables blitz package will be a major problem. In fact, it's a matchup issue for Florida State because the Noles lack talent along the offensive line. Look for Clemson defenders to be in the Florida State backfield all game long.
NATHAN ATKINS, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 58, Florida State 24
The Tigers have some of the nation's best coaches and best players. Yet, each game, a piece of the team falls apart like Peter Perfect's car from the Wacky Races cartoon series. But, Trevor Lawrence is back this week, and despite the likely rust, the Florida State defense shouldn't pose too much of a challenge. After the loss to Notre Dame, Clemson will look to make a statement against the Seminoles.
J.P. SCOTT, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Clemson 44, Florida State 13
Clemson has had a lot of time to marinate on the loss to the Irish. They need a win, and an impressive one. With QB Trevor Lawrence back, expect the Tigers to be all systems go offensively. Florida State does not have the personnel to slow down the Clemson attack, nor do they have offense that can move the ball consistently against the Tigers.
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