Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the entire game against Clemson on Saturday night. Earlier in the week, Winston was suspended for the first half of the Week 4 showdown against the Tigers, but the school released a statement on Friday night with an updated suspension. According to the statement from interim president Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox, this is the result of the ongoing investigation into Winston's use of inappropriate language on campus.
Sophomore Sean Maguire will start in place of Winston, and this will be his first taste of extended action with the Seminoles.
Maguire has completed 16 of 26 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in his career in Tallahassee. However, Maguire has never started a game or played a meaningful snap.
Winston’s suspension is a potential game-changer for Saturday night’s matchup. Florida State was a heavy favorite (around 20 points) prior to the suspension, but most still considered the Seminoles at least a two-touchdown favorite with Winston sidelined for a half.
With Winston sidelined for the full game, Florida State’s margin for error is considerably smaller.
Maguire is capable of winning this game, especially if the offensive line and rushing attack (Karlos Williams and Mario Pender) can control the pace of the game.
Clemson’s defensive line is among the best in the nation, but the Tigers are allowing 167.5 yards on the ground per game through two contests.
Although coach Jimbo Fisher seems comfortable with Maguire at the helm, expect a different approach on offense for the Seminoles.
Maguire doesn’t need to go out and win the game for Florida State. With a strong defense and capable talent around him, Maguire just needs to manage the game and limit his mistakes.
For Clemson, this is a huge chance to score an upset win. The Tigers were considered the biggest challenger to Florida State in the Atlantic this preseason, and coach Dabo Swinney’s team can steal a victory in Tallahassee.
Clemson’s chances of winning have increased with Winston out for the full game, but the Tigers still have to overcome a team that features one of the nation’s top pass defenses, along with a front seven that is healthy with the return of tackle Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample.
Clemson-Florida State is arguably the biggest game in the ACC this year. And with Winston sidelined, the matchup went from likely being a one-sided affair to a toss-up. Can the Tigers capitalize? Or will the Seminoles win and remain the No. 1 team in the nation?
And Winston’s suspension brings up an interesting scenario. What if Florida State loses to Clemson but still wins the division and finishes 12-1? Would that be enough to get into college football’s playoff? How will Winston’s suspension factor in the committee’s evaluation of the Seminoles?