The biggest game on this week’s college football schedule will take place on Saturday night when No.5 Florida State pays a visit to No.3 Clemson. It marks the first time in the 2013 season that two teams ranked in the top five will play each other.
Both teams are looking to stay undefeated and possibly become one of the favorites to reach the national championship game with a victory. The implications has some calling this the biggest game in ACC history.
"In terms of ranking, prestige of the programs and what's at stake, I think it probably is," ACCsports.com editor Jim Young told USA Today. "They're both big dogs. They've both won ACC titles in the last two years. They've both beaten each other the last two years. So I think that adds an element to it. We know they can both beat each other and I think that adds to the atmosphere."
The Tigers enter the contest somewhat fortunate to be 6-0. Last week, Clemson needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Boston College, who were 25-point underdogs. Heisman Trophy hopeful Tajh Boyd completed 30 of his 44 pass attempts for 334 yards. Clemson’s biggest struggles came on third down, where they failed to convert 13 of 17 tries.
Despite being at home and their higher ranking, the Tigers are not favored in Saturday’s matchup. The Seminoles haven't won in Clemson since 2001, but they could be poised to end that streak. While the Tigers are coming off a hard-fought win, the Seminoles were idle last week, so they will be operating on 14 days of rest for their toughest matchup of the season.
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Two weeks may not be enough to get ready to face one of the best wide receivers in the country. Sammy Watkins has 36 catches for 582 yards on the year and will be the biggest concern for the FSU secondary. Boyd and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston are two of the top candidates to win the Hesiman Trophy, but Watkins may be the only player at his position with a legitimate chance to be considered for the award.
In 2012, though, the Seminoles were able to contain Watkins, holding him to just 24 receiving yards. His lack of production helped Florida State come back from an early deficit and win 49-37.
"I felt like they physically whipped us at the wide receiver position," Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris told reporters. "They embarrassed us. That's been a point of emphasis and will continue to be a point of emphasis. ... I thought our wide receivers spent more time on the ground than the ball did."
The Florida State secondary has been elite this year, helping to hold the team’s opponents to 12 points per game. They lost cornerback Xavier Rhodes to the NFL and safety Tyler Hunter is out for the season. True freshman Jalen Ramsey has stepped up in Hunter’s place, but could be targeted by the Clemson offensive attack.
"We feel very good about where he's at," head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the Seminoles last game. "The more time he's there and the more reps you get, but we've been cross-training for a long time."
Las Vegas Betting Odds: Florida State favored by 3 points
Over-Under: 64 points
Kickoff Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: ABC
Prediction: Florida State 37, Clemson 23