Clemson Tigers at Florida State Seminoles, Saturday Oct. 29, 8 p.m. ET
This game has been circled on the calendar of most college football fans since well before the season started. Ever since the end of last year, really. Well, I hope that you circled it in pencil because it's not the game it was supposed to be. Not even close.
Sure, it's still important enough, and it's a classic matchup that usually entertains, but it isn't the high-stakes battle that it once was. For Clemson it still matters for sure. They need to win with authority here not only to stay unbeaten but to stay in the forefront of the mind of playoff voters so they can make the crucial final four. Aside from the playoffs, though, the game doesn't matter too much. They have a one-game lead in the division but also hold the tiebreaker with Louisville. From a conference perspective, then, one loss is basically meaningless for Clemson. They would need to lose two while Louisville wins out to not make the ACC Championship Game. That isn't likely to happen.
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For the Seminoles, meanwhile, they are in the ugly situation where the only thing that actually matters is pride. They have nothing else to play for after two conferences losses. They very likely can't win the ACC - it would take a miracle - and they are absolutely out of any playoff consideration. This could very easily be their third loss. In October. That certainly wasn't how this season was supposed to unfold. So, to recap - important game - especially for Clemson - but just a shadow of the mega-stakes they played for last year and which many expected again this year.
Clemson at Florida State Betting Storylines
This is absolutely not the Florida State we were expecting or that we have seen in recent years. Make no mistake, though - despite the record this isn't the same Clemson as last year, either. They almost lost to Auburn in their opener - and that was before Auburn finally rediscovered their long lost running game in recent weeks. They tried really hard to lose to Troy in their second outing. They got back on track and won a thriller against Louisville, and it seemed for a while that they had rediscovered their mojo and were about to be very dangerous. But then they struggled far more than they should have against N.C. State last weekend, giving up just short of 400 yards of offense, failing to score in the fourth quarter, and needing overtime to win. It was not a dominant performance, and it has not been a dominant season. They are the most vulnerable of the unbeaten major conference teams not named Nebraska or West Virginia.
By picking on Clemson's last game , I don't want to leave the impression that Florida State is coming off a big win. They beat Wake Forest, so they get credit for a home conference win. It was a long way from pretty, though. QB Deondre Francois threw an interception that was far from flattering, and he lost a fumble as well. Not wanting to be shown up, star running back Dalvin Cook, who is not having nearly the year that he had last year, lost two fumbles of his own. This team is a shell of what they were last year - and not just because of that last game. There are a lot of indicators about this, but a big indicator is on defense. Last year they were fifth in the country, allowing just an average of 15.8 points per game. Nice season. So far this year they rank an ugly 75th, giving up 28.9 points per game. They have played seven games, so this isn't just a blip. They are a different, less-awesome team.
Clemson at Florida State Odds and Betting Trends
Clemson opened up as three-point road favorites, and that has climbed up to 4.5 in early action. Just over 70 percent of bets have come in on Clemson, so the line movement isn't unexpected. The early total is set at 60 points.
The Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games and in their last five October games. They are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against teams with winning records. The Seminoles are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games on grass but just 0-4 ATS in their last four games following a straight up win.
Clemson at Florida State Predictions and Picks
I have probably made it clear that I don't really like or respect either of these teams too much. I have to take a side, though, and in this case that has to be Clemson. I don't trust the Florida State defense at all, and Clemson should be able to exploit that. They should need it more, and they are more talented this year - or at least that is how it has evolved to appear. Clemson is the pick.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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