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Clemson vs. Florida State Prediction: Tigers Aim for Seventh Straight Win Over Seminoles

FSU looking to rebound from back-to-back conference losses by handing Clemson its first defeat.

After back-to-back tough losses to ranked teams, Florida State will face its toughest test yet. On Saturday night, the Seminoles will welcome No. 4 Clemson to Doak Campbell Stadium. The Tigers are 6-0 (4-0 ACC) and coming off a 31-3 rout of Boston College.

Following a 4-0 start, FSU has dropped ACC games to Wake Forest and NC State. The Seminoles led 17-3 at halftime last week but were unable to hold the advantage as the Wolfpack scored the game's final 16 points for a 19-17 victory.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 7

Clemson will look to beat Florida State for the seventh straight time dating back to 2015. The Seminoles led in the fourth quarter last season before the Tigers rallied for a 30-20 victory. This will be the first meeting between the teams in Tallahassee since 2018. In that one, Clemson handed FSU its worst ACC loss ever, 59-10.

No. 4 Clemson at Florida State

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Clemson -3.5
Tickets: As low as $58 on*

When Clemson Has the Ball

After owning one of the worst offenses in the ACC in 2021, things have turned around for Clemson. The Tigers are in the middle of the pack of the conference in yards (425.3 per game) but score the third-most points (39.3 per game). A big reason for the improvement has been the play of quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. Last season, Uiagalelei threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Through six games this season, the third-year signal-caller has 14 touchdown passes, three rushing touchdowns, and just two interceptions. His 1,462 passing yards rank second in the ACC, and his 311 rushing yards rank 11th (second among QBs).

Joining Uiagalelei in the backfield is running back Will Shipley. In last season's victory over the Seminoles, Shipley finished with 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than three minutes remaining. Shipley ranks fifth in the ACC with 446 yards on the ground and third with eight touchdowns. In the passing game, Clemson has spread the ball around. Beaux Collins leads the team with 290 yards and five touchdown catches, but Joseph Ngata and Antonio Williams are solid options as well. Tight ends Davis Allen and Jake Briningstool are reliable targets as well, especially on third down and in the red zone.

Injuries have plagued FSU's defensive front for most of the season, but leading sack man Jared Verse is getting close to 100 percent. Verse currently ranks second in the ACC with four sacks and is tied for first in sacks per game. Robert Cooper is a load in the middle, and FSU hopes to have Fabien Lovett back beside him soon. Derrick McLendon II and Patrick Payton have done a nice job generating pressure off the edge. Overall, FSU is in the top half of the ACC in total and scoring defense.

Safety Jammie Robinson headlines a deep FSU secondary that allows the fewest passing yards per game in the ACC. Robinson recorded his first interception of the season in last week's loss to NC State. Omarion Cooper had the lone interception in last season's contest at Clemson. The Seminoles aren't particularly deep but are solid at linebacker. UCF transfer Tatum Bethune headlines the group and is coming off his best performance as a Seminole last week, recording 14 tackles (2.5 for a loss). Kalen DeLoach is another reliable contributor at linebacker.

When Florida State Has the Ball

His pass catchers did him few favors last week, but quarterback Jordan Travis hasn't been as sharp over the last two weeks after a torrid start. Still, Travis ranks in the top four in the ACC in passing yards, yards per attempt, and passer rating. Quiet with his legs for the early part of the season, Travis eclipsed the century mark rushing last week in the loss to NC State. He passed for 176 yards and two touchdowns in last season's contest at Death Valley. FSU may be without leading rusher Treshaun Ward for a while, but Lawrance Toafili and Trey Benson can pick up the slack in the backfield. Toafili caught a 75-yard touchdown on a wild play in last season's loss.

The FSU receiving corps has been aided by newcomers such as Mycah Pittman and Johnny Wilson. Wilson, the leading receiver, is a matchup nightmare at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds. He leads the team with 417 yards. Pittman has caught three touchdowns over the last two weeks. Ontaria Wilson and tight end Camren McDonald are other solid pieces to the passing attack. As a team, FSU averages nearly 466 yards per game — good for second in the ACC. Unfortunately, that hasn't translated into points in recent weeks. Despite significant improvement, the FSU offensive line could struggle with the Clemson defensive front this week.

Former Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables may no longer be around, but that hasn't kept Clemson from fielding a top-25 defense. Take away the 51-45 overtime win over Wake Forest and the Tigers would rank even higher. Even with that high-scoring affair, Clemson boasts the second-ranked rushing defense in the country (63.7 ypg) and is in the top 25 nationally in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and total (319.7 ypg) defense.

Up front, Clemson is loaded with playmakers including K.J. Henry, Myles Murphy, Xavier Thomas, Bryan Bresee, and Ruke Orhorhoro. Thomas recorded a pair of sacks last week after missing the start of the season to injury. Clemson leads the ACC and is tied for fifth in FBS with 48 tackles for a loss this season.

While the defensive front is the strength of the team, there isn't a huge drop-off at linebacker or in the secondary. Linebackers Trenton Simpson and Barrett Carter are the top two tacklers, while Jeremiah Trotter Jr. brings versatility to the position. Andrew Mukuba and Tyler Venables form a nice safety duo for a defense that doesn't give up many big plays. The Seminoles have the athletes to at least test that this week.

The Tigers also appear to have the advantage in the kicking game, but FSU's Ryan Fitzgerald did make a 47-yard field goal last week. Clemson's B.T. Potter is 11-for-13 on field goals with a long of 52 yards but went just 1-for-4 against the Seminoles last season.

Final Analysis

For Florida State to win on Saturday night, Travis will have to make big plays with his arm and likely with his legs as well. Against a good NC State front last week, the Seminoles were held scoreless and to just 93 yards in the second half. Clemson may be even better along the defensive line. Another thing that FSU will need to do is play mistake-free. The Seminoles committed two turnovers in the second half against the Wolfpack and finished the game with more than 100 yards in penalties. FSU has been assessed more penalty yardage than any other ACC school. Those little things can add up.

Prediction: Clemson 27, Florida State 17

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— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.

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