Over the last five seasons, the winner of the Clemson and Florida State game has also gone on to play for the ACC title out of the Atlantic division, and over the last three years also going to a BCS bowl game. Last year the Seminoles gave the Tigers one of the most crushing blows in the history of their football program, but things might be different this season and not just because Jameis Winston is suspended from the game.
Last year, almost everyone from that Florida State team that went on to win the national title with a win over Auburn, going undefeated through the season, lists the win against Clemson as the moment in which they realized that they’ve got themselves a very special team. Up until that point, Clemson were looked at as a national title contender as well, with Tajh Boyd at quarterback and Sammy Watkins at wide receiver.
Florida State won 51-14, and went on to accomplish great things. Clemson didn’t bounce back from that loss, going on to win the Orange Bowl after beating Ohio State. Still, it’s been difficult to put behind for those returning for another year. Clemson start seven players on defense who played last season, and also lost to Georgia in the opening of this season, pushing Clemson down the rankings to #22, while Florida State, despite not impressing against Oklahoma State, remain as the number one team.
Jameis Winston won’t be playing which has made the bookies in Las Vegas do a whole lot of changes. The initial reaction from the school for Winston finding another way to embarrass himself and the university was giving him a suspension for one half. Criticism was soon to follow and despite trying to fight the pressure, the school changed its decision and gave him a one game suspension, just to keep everyone pleased and quiet, avoiding further controversy.
The Seminoles are 16-0 with Winston at quarterback, which is the second longest streak by an FBS quarterback to begin his career as starter since 2000, following Greg McElroy of Alabama with 19 straight wins in 2009 and 2010. Sean Maguire will be playing the game under center for them, with a tally of 26 career passes coming in garbage time for the Seminoles.
Clemson bounced back from the loss to Georgia with a 73-7 win over South Carolina State, not convincing anyone. Cole Stoudt seems to the quarterback they’re going with, but Deshaun Watson is also looking to make the starting role, and it’s still something of an undecided contest between the two, although Stoudt is the frontrunner.
Even without Winston, Florida State are the favorites in this game, especially when playing at home. However, they’ve been having trouble slowing down teams on third down and defending the run, which might give Clemson a chance to show they’re not that bad at putting the ball on the ground with Wayne Gallman carrying most of the load. Clemson have won just once on their last 11 visits to Tallahassee, a 27-20 win in 2006.