While dreams of maintaining their lofty status as the nation’s best team across the board hang over their heads, the red-hot and undefeated No. 1 Clemson Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) must first gun for the ACC Atlantic crown in Saturday’s matchup with the No. 16 Florida State Seminoles (7-1, 5-1) at Memorial Stadium
The Tigers and head coach Dabo Swinney earned the No. 1 ranking in the first College Football Playoff rankings earlier this week after trouncing North Carolina State 56-41 to stay perfect on the year, and stayed head of traditional powers No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Ohio State, and No. 4 Alabama.
But Swinney and the Tigers are looking at the rest of the season in more of a piecemeal fashion, first focusing on wrapping up the division and a spot in the ACC title game. With eight victories already and only three games left on the schedule after Saturday, a win over the Seminoles would put every other club out of Clemson’s reach.
Powered by ACC-leading quarterback Deshaun Watson the Tigers have put up 567 and 623 yards in their last two games, with the latter even more impressive considering the Wolfpack owned the third-best defense in the country before last week’s matchup.
Running back Wayne Gallman and receiver Artavis Scott join Watson in the nation’s 12 th highest-scoring offense, with both in the top three at their positions this season. Gallman’s second in conference with 874 yards and seven touchdowns, and Scott’s caught 47 balls for 514 yards and four scores.
And it’s a good thing the Tigers appear prepared for a shootout with any team in the country, as Florida State comes off an impressive victory without two of their top players.
With quarterback Everett Golson out due to a concussion and running Dalvin Cook sidelined by an ankle injury, Sean Maguire stepped up to toss for 348 yards and three touchdowns and Jacques Patrick gained 162 yards and three more scores in last week’s 45-21 blasting of Syracuse.
The Seminoles equaled their season-high in points and their 575 total offense yards was the second-highest output of the season, both of which may serve as reason enough for head coach Jimbo Fisher to keep Maguire in and Golson on the sidelines.
Earlier this week, Fisher told reporters he was unsure if Golson or Cook was healthy enough to play, but recognized he has the benefit of depth on his roster.
"We have two guys, we know now they can come in and play very well," Fisher said. "Both have had outstanding games throughout this season. Everett has had a 370-yard game. Sean has had a 350-yard game. We feel very comfortable with them."
Betting Odds: Clemson -12 points
Over/Under: 55.5 points
Prediction: Clemson over Florida State, 37-30