November 10, 2017 - by
First and 10: Florida State at No. 4 Clemson

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Fresh off a dramatic victory over Syracuse last week, the Seminoles are on the road for their ACC finale at Clemson. Here are the names, numbers and notes you need to know before kickoff.

1. Game on

Florida State (3-5, 3-4 ACC) at No. 4 Clemson (8-1, 6-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 3:30 p.m./Memorial Stadium (81,500) in Clemson, S.C.
TV/Radio: ESPN/Seminole IMG Radio Network/SiriusXM Ch. 81

Florida State injury report:
DB Nate Andrews (leg) – OUT
RB Ryan Green (illness) – OUT
WR Tamorrion Terry (illness) – OUT
WR Auden Tate (leg) – QUESTIONABLE
FB Johnathan Vickers (leg) – QUESTIONABLE

Out for Season
WR George Campbell (hip)
OL Landon Dickerson (ankle)
QB Deondre Francois (knee)
OL Baveon Johnson (knee)
OL Jauan Williams (shoulder)

2. Know Your Foe

Clemson Tigers
Coach: Dabo Swinney (97-29 in nine-plus season, all at Clemson)
Last game: Kelly Bryant ran for two scores and threw for another as the Tigers survived an upset bid with a 38-31 victory at NC State. Clemson scored two touchdowns of at least 77 yards.
Last game vs. Florida State: Dalvin Cook gave FSU a late, fourth-quarter lead, but the Tigers escaped when Jordan Leggett caught a 34-yard touchdown catch that gave the Tigers a 37-34 win at Doak Campbell Stadium on Oct. 30, 2016.

Clemson vs. Florida State all-time: FSU leads the all-time series 20-10 and is 8-6 against the Tigers in Clemson.

1970: FLORIDA STATE 38, Clemson 13

1975: Florida State 43, CLEMSON 7

1976: Clemson 15, FLORIDA STATE 12

1988: No. 10 Florida State 24, No. 3 CLEMSON 21

1989: No. 10 Clemson 34, No. 16 FLORIDA STATE 23

1992: No. 5 Florida State 24, No. 15 CLEMSON 20

1993: No. 1 FLORIDA STATE 57, No. 21 Clemson 0

1994: No. 10 FLORIDA STATE 17, Clemson 0

1995: No. 1 Florida State 45, CLEMSON 26

1996: No. 2 FLORIDA STATE 34, Clemson 3

1997: No. 5 Florida State 35, No. 15 CLEMSON 28

1998: No.6 FLORIDA STATE 48, Clemson 0

1999: No. 1 Florida State 17, Clemson 14

2000: No. 4 FLORIDA STATE 54, No. 10 Clemson 7

2001: No. 14 Florida State 41, No. 24 CLEMSON 27

2002: No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 48, Clemson 31

2003: CLEMSON 26, No. 3 Florida State 10

2004: No. 8 FLORIDA STATE 41, Clemson 22

2005: CLEMSON 35, No. 16 Florida State 14

2006: Clemson 27, No. 9 FLORIDA STATE 20

2007: CLEMSON 24, No. 19 Florida State 18

2008: No. 24 FLORIDA STATE 41, Clemson 27

2009: CLEMSON 40, Florida State 27

2010: FLORIDA STATE 16, Clemson 13

2011: No. 21 CLEMSON 35, No. 11 Florida State 30

2012: No. 4 FLORIDA STATE 49, No. 9 Clemson 37

2013: No. 5 Florida State 51, No. 3 CLEMSON 14

2014: No. 1 FLORIDA STATE 23, No. 22 Clemson 17 (OT)

2015: No. 1 CLEMSON 23, No. 16 Florida State 13

2016: No. 3 Clemson 37, No. 12 FLORIDA STATE 34

2017: Florida State at No. 4 CLEMSON, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

3. Storylines
  • The latest iteration of what has become the ACC’s marquee rivalry is here. The winner of the Florida State-Clemson game has gone on to win the Atlantic Division in every year since 2009. And while the Seminoles aren’t in contention for the division title, they still have plenty to play for: First and foremost, another step toward extending their nation’s-best bowl and winning-season streaks. But also, a chance to remind the country that they’re better than their 3-5 record suggests and still a major force in both the nation and the ACC.
  • While FSU dominated the Tigers in the 1990s, the series has been close under coaches Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney. Fisher is 4-3 against the Tigers in his seven years as FSU’s head coach, and FSU and Clemson have split the last 10 meetings, which each team holding a 4-1 record on its home field. The Seminoles will be looking to buck some impressive trends for the Tigers: Clemson has won 39 of its last 42 games, 27 of its last 28 home games, and 21 of 22 against ACC Atlantic foes.

     

  • The Seminoles ought to get an emotional boost with the return of junior running back Jacques Patrick, one of the team’s most productive players as well as one of the cornerstones of the locker room. Patrick thought he would miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury against Louisville last month, but the injury turned out to not be as bad as feared, and Patrick returned to practice this week. Fisher said that Patrick will be a “full go,” and he is expected to play against the Tigers. Patrick has run for 434 yards and a touchdown this season.

     

  • The wave of youth that has swept across FSU’s roster will get its first taste of a major, hostile environment on Saturday. The Seminoles’ first three road games this season were at Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College, three programs with stadium capacities under 50,000. The degree of difficulty should increase considerably at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium – infamously known as “Death Valley.”  The 81,500-seat stadium consistently ranks as one of the country’s hardest places to play, and the Tigers are 57-7 at home during Swinney’s nine-plus year tenure. FSU has started freshmen at quarterback (James Blackman) and running back (Cam Akers) for the first time since freshmen became eligible in 1972, and several freshman defenders, including Hamsah Nasirildeen, Stanford Samuels III, Cyrus Fagan and Josh Kaindoh, have seen increased playing time in recent weeks.
4. Ones To Watch

Clemson: Another week, another FSU opponent with a dual-threat quarterback. Clemson’s Kelly Bryant is the third opposing QB to lead his team in both passing and rushing. The junior has thrown for 1,773 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions, while adding another 548 yards and nine scores on the ground.

On defense, it would do the Tigers a disservice to single out only one defensive lineman. Clemson’s front four is perhaps the best in the country, with all four starters – Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins – expected to play in the NFL. Lawrence’s stats aren’t eye-popping, but the 6-7, 340-pound sophomore is perhaps the most important piece of the line, as his ability to draw heavy attention and double-teams opens space for his teammates.

Florida State: Freshman Cam Akers last week accounted for 217 of FSU’s 343 total yards against Syracuse, a figure which includes touchdown runs of 63 and 54 yards. While long, sustained drives may be hard to come by against Clemson’s defense, Akers has shown that he can break loose for a big play against just about anyone. And don’t forget, then-sophomore Dalvin Cook’s 75-yard touchdown run early in FSU’s last visit to Clemson sparked the Seminoles to a near-perfect start and helped ensure that they had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

Safety Derwin James appeared to have something of a breakthrough last week. He grabbed his first interception of the season, could have had another, and he got a hand on what would have been a game-tying field goal as time expired. Billed in the preseason by ESPN and Sports Illustrated as the best player in college football, James should have ample opportunity to make an impact against Clemson, as both FSU’s best ace to play for Bryant, as well as in coverage across from a trio of talented receivers.

First and 10: Florida State at No. 4 Clemson
5. Numbers To Know

Total offense: FSU: 336.5 YPG (113th nationally); CU: 442.9 YPG (34th)
Scoring offense:  FSU: 18.6 PPG (119th); CU: 32.9 PPG (35th)
Passing offense: FSU: 192.8 YPG (92nd); CU: 222.7 YPG ( 69th)
Rushing offense: FSU: 143.8 YPG (90th); CU: 220.2 (25th)

Total defense: FSU: 361.8 YPG (36th); CU: 305.2 YPG (13th)
Scoring defense: FSU: 24.3 PPG (46th); CU: 15.1 PPG (8th)
Passing defense: FSU: 204.8 YPG (45th); CU: 182.3 YPG (21st)
Rushing defense: FSU: 157.0 YPG (55th); CU: 122.9 YPG (20th)

6. They Said It

“You can say it motivates us. Of course, they’re looking at us as an underdog or something like that … I don’t care. it’s motivation. Any motivation is helpful.” – FSU defensive end Brian Burns on being an underdog against the Tigers

“They can count us out all they want to. But at the end of the day, we have to play the football game.” – FSU cornerback Levonta Taylor

“You gotta get ready to compete and understand who you’re playing. Listen, they ain’t going to give you anything. You gotta go earn everything. Better have your sleeves rolled up and have your helmet buckled tight, be ready to play. They’re a great team, a great program. There’s the secret: Gotta go play, hopefully play well and play intelligent.” – Jimbo Fisher on facing Clemson

“They’re very dangerous. I promise you, there’s no coach that’s going to turn on the tape and be excited about playing Florida State.” – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on playing the Seminoles

“He’ll get it right. He’ll get it fixed. They’ll keep recruiting and continue to be Florida State like they always have been.” – Swinney on Fisher and FSU’s long-term outlook

7. Nole Notes
  • There are several ties between FSU and Clemson:
  • Brad Scott, an FSU assistant from 1983-93, now serves as a CU administrator, and his son Jeff is Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator;

    Hootie Ingram was Clemson’s football coach from 1970-72 and later became FSU’s athletics director from 1981-89;

    Clemson fullback Garrett Williams is the son of FSU fullback Dayne Williams. Dayne Williams has a special place in the FSU-Clemson series – he was the upback who received the snap on the famous “puntrooskie” play that helped the Seminoles win at Clemson in 1988. Williams got the ball to Leroy Butler, who then ran 78 yards to set up the Seminoles’ game-winning score;

    Finally, of course, the Tigers were coached from 1999-2008 by Tommy Bowden, the son of FSU legend Bobby Bowden. The two meet in nine “Bowden Bowls,” with Bobby holding a 5-4 advantage. Those games remain the only father-son coaching clashes in major college football history.

  • The Seminoles last week had three touchdowns of 50-plus yards, the first time they had done so since 1976. That was Bobby Bowden’s first year at FSU, and a span of 510 games.
  • The Seminoles have blocked four kicks this season and eight dating back to last year. FSU’s four blocks is tied for third-most in the country.
  • After a comparably slow start to the season, junior receiver Nyqwan Murray has had an impressive month. He’s had at least 60 receiving yards in each of the last four games, with two touchdowns in that span. More than 77 percent of his season output (338 of 437 yards) has come during that stretch as well.
  • The Tigers are about as balanced as possible on offense – they average 222.7 passing yards and 220.2 rushing yards per game.
  • FSU could have a decided advantage in the kicking game. FSU kicker Ricky Aguayo is 14 of 17 this season and has missed only once in the last six games. Clemson’s Alex Spence, meanwhile, is 4 of 9 since taking over for injured started Greg Huegel.
8. Watch And Learn

It’s the obvious choice, but any excuse to take another look at the “puntrooskie” is a good one. This time, pay attention to No. 49 – that’s Dayne Williams, whose son Garrett is now a freshman fullback at Clemson:

9. Further Reading
10. The Bottom Line

When the schedule was released in February, before anyone had any idea how this season would play out, it was obvious that FSU’s November trip to Clemson would be one of the toughest dates on the slate – if not the toughest. Nothing that has followed has changed that. The Tigers are the defending national champions and, even without star QB Deshaun Watson, are again in the mix for the College Football Playoff. Winning at Clemson will be difficult for FSU because winning at Clemson is difficult for everyone.

That said, there is a path for an FSU victory, and the Seminoles have walked it at times during their recent matchups with the Tigers. It starts with getting an early lead – as they did in 2013 and 2015 – then continues with getting a few stops on defense and winning the turnover battle. That recipe was almost enough in each of the last two years, and if the Seminoles follow it on Saturday, then they’ll likely have given themselves a chance to topple the reigning champs.

 

 

 

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