As a part of TC Sports’ weekly series, we will be breaking down the top BCS game of the week. Our next BCS Game of the Week: a top-five matchup of ACC teams with Heisman and National Championship hopes, with No. 5 Florida St. traveling to face No. 3 Clemson.
WHY FLORIDA STATE WILL WIN: With how evenly-matched these two squads are, it is likely that this game is going to come down to a matchup of the two quarterbacks: Florida State’s Jameis Winston against Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. Both quarterbacks have been remarkable this season, with the redshirt freshman Winston becoming college football’s poster boy, and for good reason. Winston has thrown for 1441 yards, with 17 touchdown passes against just two interceptions. He has completed 73.2% of his passes this season, and has led this Florida State offense to no less than 41 points in every game so far this season. While the toughest opponent he has had all year was arguably then-No. 25 Maryland, Winston torched the Terrapins in that game (23-32 393 passing yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions) for the best game of his career so far. Winston is coming off having an extra week to prepare for Clemson’s defense, watching them slop to an ugly 24-14 win over Boston College. Alongside Winston the Seminoles have running backs Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr., and Karlos Williams who have averaged 7.2 yards per carry this season. They certainly will put pressure on a Clemson defense that is giving up 6.6 yards per carry so far this season (albeit they have faced tough competition such as Georgia’s Todd Gurley). While Florida State may be more well-known for its explosive offense, the Seminoles defense has its own set of athletes. The defense returns many from the same players that limited Boyd to his second-worst QBR (according to ESPN) of his season last season and bottled up Sammy Watkins for just 24 receiving yards last season.
WHY CLEMSON WILL WIN: The Clemson Tigers bring back the same type of athletes they bring in almost every year, but this season seems to go to a different tune for this Clemson team. THey are almost halfway through their schedule without their annual “Clemsoning” letdown, and have signature wins over Georgia and a tough road win at NC State on their resume this season. Tajh Boyd has been terrific this season, becoming the perfect fit for the offense and throwing for 1783 yards, 15 touchdowns, and two interceptions so far this season. Despite not winning convincingly last week, Boyd has had explosive performances (270 passing yards, five touchdowns (two rushing) vs Georgia; 455 passing yards, five touchdowns @ Syracuse; 334 passing yards, two touchdowns (one rushing) vs. Boston College) that should strike fear into any defense. This is also Boyd’s third matchup against the Seminoles (won in 2011, lost in 2012), while Winston is facing to a top-five team for the first time in his college career. Boyd will definitely have a target in Sammy Watkins (36 catches, 582 receiving yards, four touchdowns this season), who is amongst the fastest receivers in all of college football and having a resurgent season after a disappointing sophomore campaign. Boyd will also have help in running back Roderick McDowell, who is averaging nearly five yards per carry this season.Clemson is hosting the Seminoles in Death Valley, which is a promising sign as the home team has won 10 of the last 11 games in the series between the two schools. Also, the last freshman quarterback to win at Memorial Stadium was Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor back in 2007.
PREDICTION: Florida State, an intriguing team entering this season, will accelerate their future success by putting up a solid performance in Death Valley that should come down to the wire. The Seminoles’ title hopes are dashed in a close 42-38 loss, but the legend of Jameis Winston grows as well as his Heisman candidacy for this season and next year. Clemson picks up their second top-ten win of the season, and prove that they deserve the No.3 ranking and are on the same level as Alabama and Oregon.