This was the game a lot of people were waiting for since last season. It could have been the most anticipated game of the past couple of seasons.
Then, Louisville and 63-20 happened. Then, the North Carolina Tar Heels comeback victory happened to the Noles and 2 losses for Florida State just about ruined any hope for this game to be what it had been cracked up to be.
Even though the Seminoles are 5-2 instead of the expected 7-0, that’s not the only problem.
Clemson is unbeaten on the season at 7-0, but they just have not played all that well most of the season. Oh, yes, they have had their moments like the Louisville win and against the number one defense at the time when they beat Boston College, 56-10.
But, they looked sluggish against Auburn, Troy, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
Hopes were really high with Florida State because they had everybody back on offense and I mean
everybody. They had every starter returning and a few back up players with a lot of experience. Even though senior Quarterback Sean Maguire returned, Florida State coach decided to go with super talented redshirt freshman Deondre Francois.
They returned one of the very best players in the nation and outstanding Running Back Dalvin Cook, plus outstanding big power back, Jacques Patrick.
The Seminoles returned their top Wide Receivers including Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield. Ryan Izzo returned as the starter at Tight End, but there was another talent returning in Mavin Saunders.
The Offensive Line returned everyone, plus a few others that had played in 2015. In the Spring, they moved Rick Leonard over from Defensive End to Right Tackle. He looked really good in the Spring, but during the 2016 season Leonard struggled badly. It was enough that they benched him in favor of Brock Ruble. Star Left Tackle Roderick Johnson has had his own fair share of difficulties, but he has improved with Guard Kareem Are situated right next to him.
The emergence of true freshman Right Guard Landon Dickerson has been helpful. This guy is going to be a star.
The defense lost a few players from last season including 1st round pick Jalen Ramsey. They also lost top tackler Reggie Northrup at Linebacker and other Linebacker Terrance Smith and Defensive Back Lamarcus Brutus. But, no worries, the Seminoles returned plenty of talent and they have recruited lights out in recent years.
Safety Derwin James is as good as there is, but he has been out lately. Defensive Ends DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat are talents and especially Walker. In the opening game, Walker had 4 and 1/2 Quarterback sacks against Ole Miss. Those sacks probably did as much as anything to turn that game around and he has had only 3 sacks since that game.
Ro’Derrick Hoskins, Jacob Pugh, Trey Marshall and Derrick Nnadi all return from last year.
Can these guys beat Clemson?
Yes, they can. But, the bigger question may be is will they beat Clemson?
That, I don’t know but we will find out on Saturday.
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson was thought to be the far and away leader for the Heisman Trophy coming into the season. But, he has started off slowly and the emergence of Louisville super star Lamar Jackson may have the Clemson star on the outside looking in.
Plus, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is becoming more and more of a trendy pick in 2016.
I would assume that Watson would trade the Heisman Trophy for the national championship trophy in a heartbeat.
Watson and his Tiger teammates have struggled hanging onto the ball this season. Interceptions and fumbles have plagued the Clemson stars this year.
If they hang onto the ball on Saturday, they have a really good chance at winning.
Star Running Back Wayne Gallman was knocked out against North Carolina State, but he is expected back for Florida State.
The Tigers have a plethora of Wide Receivers, but they are lead by Mike Williams. But, it would be a huge mistake to overlook Ray Ray McCloud, Artivus Scott and Deon Cain and that’s just some of the talent that Clemson can throw out there.
Tight End Jordan Leggett is another threat. The Offensive Line has talent, but they have struggled lately.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have a lot of quality players. The Defensive Line, in particular, is loaded. 6-5, 345 true freshman Dexter Lawrence might be the best freshman in the country regardless of position. The kid is just a superstar and supposedly cover 40 yards in less than 5 seconds.
But, the talent surrounding him is also really outstanding starting with Christian Wilkins and Carlos Watkins. Then, there’s Clelin Ferrell, Scott Pagano, Albert Huggins, Richard Yeargin and Chris Register. These are just the Tiger Defensive Linemen and Austin Bryant is set to return at full strength probably
against Florida State. The return of the injured Austin Bryant allows the coaches to move Christian Wilkins back inside.
The second level has Linebackers Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph and Dorian O’Daniel and they are playing well. The secondary was supposed to be a team weakness with so many losses to the NFL. But, Van Smith, Jadar Johnson. Cordrea Tankersley, Ryan Carter and Marcus Edmond have come up big with only Tankersley as a returning starter.
Right now, Clemson sits as a 3 point favorite. But, that could change before game time.
Obviously, whoever wins the line of scrimmage will more than likely win. But, both of these teams have turned the ball over at times this season. Hanging on to the football for both teams will be a huge factor.
Clemson’s Watson has 8 Interceptions and Francois has only 3. Highly ranked Clemson can’t turn the ball over in a game like this like they did against Louisville and North Carolina State, or they will get beat.
This could still be the best game of the week and will be worth watching even if you don’t have a dog in this fight.