The case for Clemson: Uh, sure, Florida State. But these Tigers are SEC-tough on the big stage, having defeated top 10-ranked LSU and Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and 2013 season opener, respectively. And it's hard to stay within 31-17 at South Carolina while losing the turnover battle by a half-dozen.

The case for Ohio State: The Buckeyes are a 3-point favorite because, shaky schedule or not, they're sixth in the nation in total offense. And as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, "24-1 over two years is unheard of."

Yes, even against a steady diet of Purdue and Illinois with a little Florida A&M mixed in.

Matchup to watch: Clemson's offensive line, particularly sophomore right tackle Isaiah Battle, against an Ohio State pass rush that is fierce but playing without Noah Spence, suspended for three games this week for violating an unspecified Big Ten rule.

The pick: Ohio State 35, Clemson 31

MVP: Braxton Miller. The 6-2, 215-pound junior is merely the third-best quarterback Clemson will have faced this season. But the Tigers struggled with Jameis Winston and Connor Shaw and Miller is a deft combo threat likely to get extra running space with Clemson forced to focus on running back Carlos Hyde.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff