2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - Florida State at Clemson
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Sept. 24 at Clemson 35 … Florida State 30
CFN Analysis: Blowing up against Auburn is one thing, but Florida State’s defense it truly something special and Clemson was able to roll. Tajh Boyd was beaten up and a bit battered, but he threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns helped by Sammy Watkins, the new star who come up with another huge performance catching eight passes for 141 yards and two scores. But there are holes. The Tigers had way too many problems putting the game away, hurt by a poor call on a late fourth down attempt and a secondary that had problems against the Seminole receivers, but no matter how it happened, beating Auburn and Florida State in back to back weeks is fantastic. What’s better? Beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg next week.
Florida State had to be perfect to make up for the bumps and bruises on offense and without quarterback E.J. Manuel, and it wasn’t. Even so, the Noles almost pulled it off. The 11 penalties were disastrous and the lack of any running game – coming up with just 29 yards – hurt, but Clint Trickett proved he could play throwing for 336 yards and three scores. There can’t be a letdown next week against a rested Wake Forest, but this is it for the tough ACC games considering Miami is mediocre and there’s no Virginia Tech to deal with.
(AP) CLEMSON, S.C. -- Tajh Boyd threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as No. 21 Clemson opened Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 35-30 victory over No. 11 Florida State on Saturday.
Boyd threw for 344 yards for the Tigers, who reached 4-0 for the first time since 2007. Freshman Sammy Watkins had two of Boyd's scoring passes for 24 and 62 yards as Clemson beat the Seminoles (2-2, 0-1) for the fifth straight time in Death Valley.
Watkins finished with eight catches for 141 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game.
Florida State played without starting quarterback EJ Manuel, hurt in last week's 23-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma. Backup Clint Trickett kept the Seminoles in this, though, with 336 yards and three touchdown passes.
His 9-yard touchdown throw to Kenny Shaw brought Florida State to 35-30 with 7:21 to go. The Seminoles had one final chance, but Trickett was sacked by lineman Rennie Moore on fourth down and the Tigers ran out the clock.
When it was over, Tiger fans and players celebrated like they'd won a national title, swarming the field after beating Florida State the way they had a week earlier when they ended the 17-game win streak of defending BCS champion Auburn at Death Valley.
The Seminoles were ranked fifth in the country two weeks ago and considered a national championship contender. Now, they're not even tops in the ACC Atlantic after their second straight defeat.
Clemson's offense under first-year coordinator Chad Morris posted 624 yards -- the school's third highest ever -- in beating Auburn last week. But Auburn had been shaky on defense all season while Florida State's group gave the country's No. 1 team all it could handle before falling to Oklahoma, 23-13.
But Clemson and Boyd went right back to work -- with some help from Florida State. A pass interference call on cornerback Xavier Rhodes kept the Tigers opening drive alive on third-and-7 and Watkins finished things off three plays later with a 24-yard touchdown grab.
It was Watkinis' fifth scoring catch and a set a Clemson mark for freshmen.
Florida State's defense stuffed Andre Ellington on third-and-short to force a punt on Clemson's second series, but a penalty on safety Lamarcus Joyner for running into punter Dawson Zimmerman gave the Tigers back the ball. Boyd found DeAndre Hopkins for a 50-yard strike to the Seminoles 2 as the Death Valley crowd chanted Hopkins' nickname, "Nuuuuuke."
Boyd scored from a yard out to put Clemson ahead 14-3.
The Seminoles were called for another pass interference on Clemson's final scoring drive of the first half and Boyd made them pay once more on tight end Dwayne Allen's 12-yard scoring run for a 21-10 lead.
Trickett, who took all the snaps in practice this week, was effective in some spots and lost in others.
He launched a beautiful ball to Randy Smith for a 57-yard catch, the Seminoles' lone TD in the first half. But on the Florida State's next series, threw right to Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian deep in Seminoles territory.
Boyd's awful decision to throw the ball while stumbling to the ground gave Florida State a touchdown when defensive end Bjoern Werner easily picked it off and returned it 25 yards to cut things to 21-17.
Andre Ellington regained control for the Tigers when his 1-yard scoring run ended an 11-play drive with 3:03 remaining.
While Florida State tightened up its defense in the second half, it kept hurting itself with penalties. The Seminoles ended with 11 penalties for 124 yards.
Trickett, the son of FSU offensive line coach Rick, was 24 of 38 with an interception and two sacks, both in the second half.
Smith had four catches for 118 yards. The Seminoles again couldn't get much going on the ground with just 29 yards rushing.
Florida State (2-1) at Clemson (3-0) Sept. 24, 3:30, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … No rest for the weary. After playing highly-charged and closely-watched non-conference games, Florida State and Clemson meet in a league game with serious implications in the Atlantic Division race. The Tigers are coming off their biggest victory in the Dabo Swinney era, snapping defending champion Auburn’s 17-game winning streak, 38-24. It was important on so many fronts, especially for a school that’s had a stigma of coming up short in marquee games. On a broader scope, Clemson has vaulted into the title discussion in an Atlantic Coast Conference that has about five or six serious contenders.
The Seminoles got their shot at top-ranked Oklahoma in primetime, falling just short, 23-13, in a game that was tied in the final quarter. Even in losing, they acquitted themselves well against an opponent that had embarrassed them a year earlier. While Florida State’s national championship hopes have faded, the school remains the favorite to win the conference. However, an injury to the non-throwing shoulder of QB EJ Manuel will dampen enthusiasm until he gets a clean bill of health.
Why Florida State Might Win: Auburn didn’t present much defensive resistance to Clemson. The Seminoles absolutely will. Florida State kept mighty Oklahoma in check over the weekend, something few opponents have done in recent years. It made QB Landry Jones look ordinary, and yielded less than three yards a carry. A so-so Tigers offensive line will be at the mercy of DE Brandon Jenkins and a feisty corps of linebackers that includes Nigel Bradham and Vince Williams. Up-and-coming Clemson QB Tajh Boyd better be aware of defensive backs Greg Reid, Xavier Rhodes and Lamarcus Joyner, who break on the ball quickly and know what to do when they get it in their hands.
Why Clemson Might Win: It’ll be a battle of strength vs. strength in Death Valley his weekend. Florida State is stout, but the Tigers are beginning to percolate on offense. Despite running a new system with a ton of underclassmen, Clemson is clicking for coordinator Chad Morris. It blew holes through Auburn in Week 3, producing four Boyd touchdown passes and 238 yards on the ground. The scary part for the rest of the ACC is that the attack is getting crisper with each passing game. It’s inventive, fast-paced and being fueled by precocious skill position players, such as backs D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy, and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. Watkins is a few months removed from high school, yet already has 21 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
What To Watch Out For: Until the results of Manuel’s MRI come back, it won’t be known if he’ll miss a couple of practices or a couple of games. The difference is enormous, though the ‘Noles do have a bye next week. His backup is redshirt freshman Clint Trickett, who went 7-of-15 for 134 yards, a touchdown and an interception as a reliever. Even if Manuel plays at less than 100%, Florida State is likely to increase the workload of the backs. Clemson has been soft against the run in September, yielding more than five yards a carry. Whoever is taking snaps for the Seminoles will spend a fair amount of time handing the ball to Chris Thompson and the team’s other backs.
What Will Happen: With expectations so high in 2011, Florida State can ill-afford a 2-2 start and an early hole in the divisional race. That said, this is a very tough spot for the ‘Noles. They’re hitting the road following an emotional loss to the top-ranked team, and have an injured starting quarterback. Clemson, to the contrary, is hot, home and as confident as it’s been in years. The Tigers will pick up where they left off in Week 3, peppering Florida State with their speed and youthful energy. In a classic that has the potential to come down to the final possession, Clemson will take charge of the Atlantic Division, handing the Seminoles their second straight loss.
CFN Prediction: Clemson 28 … Florida State 24
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