INSIDE THE GAME: Clemson at Florida State
Here’s a look at what might make the difference when No. 10 Clemson (3-0) plays at No. 4 Florida State (3-0) today at 8 p.m. on WCIV-TV (ABC):
Tajh for Heisman?
One major bookmaker lists Tajh Boyd as having 20-to-1 odds to win the Heisman. He can better those odds tonight with a signature performance. But Boyd has the biggest test of his career tonight against perhaps the most talented defensive line in the country. Florida State defensive end Bjoren Werner (6˝ sacks) is a major mismatch for right tackle Gifford Timothy. Boyd must navigate the pocket and escape it times. He cannot force throws.
Clemson ranks 99th in sacks, 74th in tackles for loss and 84th against the run this season. Clemson needs better play out of its front seven in both pressuring the passer — in this case the talented E.J. Manuel — and slowing Florida State running back Christ Thompson, who has been prolific to date (14.0 yards per carry).
Line in the sand
Dabo Swinney said his young offensive line is still a question mark. To have a chance tonight, Clemson must stay out of third-and-long situations. The offensive line must open holes for Andre Ellington against a defense allowing 1.2 yards per carry.
Florida State’s defense and Clemson’s offense both look like elite units. But Florida State appears to have the edge when it has the ball going against a young, suspect Clemson defense. Clemson does have the best player on the field in Sammy Watkins, who will have to be a difference-maker to give the Tigers a shot at an upset.
Florida State 37, Clemson 27