Plant The Spear: Clemson Tigers
Plant The Spear is a weekly column previewing the upcoming matchup for the Florida State Seminoles. As a newly anointed father, I decided that it would be best to talk about the things that really matter to fans - tailgating, food, out-of-town watering holes, weather, betting lines and of course, cheerleaders - never forget the cheerleaders. If you're looking for your typically stuffy and recycled game preview that practically every other sports website has, don't read this. Go somewhere else. However, if you enjoy a take on college football that's mixed with pop culture references and a little witty banter all smothered in sarcasm, we'll get along just fine.
*Author's Note* As always, this is a No Homer Zone. Regardless of my membership with the Seminole Boosters, or my being a Florida State fan since I was 10 (I'm 32 now), or the fact that my wife is an FSU grad - I'm a college football fan above all else. Consumption of Seminole Kool-Aid will not be tolerated.
Breakdown: The script practically writes itself. Florida State, seeking a long-awaited return to college football dominance crosses paths with Clemson, a program trying to take that next step and finally insert itself among the college football elite. The #5 ranked and undefeated Seminoles roll into Clemson's Death Valley behind the arm of redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston, while the #3 ranked Tigers counter with fifth-year senior QB Tajh Boyd. Both are in the Heisman discussion. Both are leading their teams to battle on Saturday night with national championship hopes on the line and conquest as an only option. Only one will emerge victorious.
Coming off a bye week, the Noles should be well rested and focused for Saturday's clash. The last time we saw FSU in action they were throttling then #25 Maryland to the tune of 63-0. Bye weeks are a great chance to rest up and the two weeks of game planning for Clemson surely not hurt, but you have to wonder a little bit about rust. FSU cannot afford to come out flat against a team like Clemson or this game will be over by halftime, and not in a good way.
Clemson was locked in a battle last weekend at home against Boston College but eventually pulled away late. Not taking anything away from BC, since they also played the Noles tough a few weeks back, but I can't help but think that Clemson players (and the fans) were caught looking ahead to Florida State. It almost bit them in the ass, which would have killed the buzz worse than an annoying broad at a party that won't stop talking about the sweaters that she likes to dress her cat up in. The Tigers got a little dinged up in the BC game, but most of the key players are in tact this weekend, which is just the way you want it. Two great teams running like well-oiled machines ready to throw haymakers at each other for 3 hours. This is going to be fun.
Not since Hulk Hogan took on Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III have I been so pumped. The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object. Dont' remember? That's okay, you know I always hook you up. Enjoy.
What Clemson's Working With:
And The Best FSU/Clemson Hype Video Of The Year:
Why FSU SHOULD Win:Without running the risk of breaking my own rule and sounding like a complete FSU homer, the Noles are simply more talented across the board than the Tigers. Jameis Winston is surrounded by playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, which will certainly help bail him out of the eventual adversity that he will face in Death Valley. The FSU defense is by far the best that Clemson has seen all season, that includes the Georgia team from the all-mighty SEC that walked away from Clemson a loser. Clemson leads the nation in sacks, and defensive end Vic Beasley is a beast coming off the edge for the Tigers. If the FSU offensive line gives Jameis enough time though, he will torch the Clemson secondary all night long. Coach Jimbo Fisher loves utilizing the passing game to set up the run - and with a lead, the Noles can pound the rock, keep that Clemson offense off the field, and come out with a 'W'. All the pressure in the world is on Clemson this week to prove to the world that they belong. I guess we'll see.
.....And Why They Won't: As much as it pains me to say, I think Clemson is just one play better than Florida State on Saturday. I don't expect Clemson to come out flat against the Noles like they did last week against BC, and there is no doubt in my mind that the crowd in Death Valley will play a huge part in this game. Remember, Clemson opened up the season with a huge win against Georgia, so the Tigers have dealt with this level of intensity once already this season. For the Noles and Jameis Winston, this is the first true test of the season, on the road against the #3 team in all the land. We've all seen how our boy Famous Jameis remains cool under pressure, but let's not forget that he is still only a 19 year-old kid and has yet to look like a freshman. I suspect that of all the games remaining on the FSU schedule, this could be the one that reminds us of that. Hopefully I'm wrong.
What Worries Me:Like I said, Clemson may be just one play better than FSU on Saturday. FSU punter Cason Beatty hasn't been very solid in his kick distance this season and he has a very slow progression when getting off a kick - a perfect recipe for a block. With the athletes and speed that Clemson has, if they do decide to come after a punt, they could very well get that block which could end up being a turning point in the ball game.
Watch Out For:I'm not going to say WR Sammy Watkins since I really feel like the Noles will rough him up a bit and keep him in check for the most part. I'm looking at Clemson running back Roderick McDowell to have a surprise (or annoying, however you want to look at it) impact against the Noles. Sure, he's no Andre Ellington (Clemson's NFL-departed 1,000 yard running back from last season), but McDowell is averaging 5 yards per carry and gashed the Georgia D in their meeting.
What I'd Like To See: I'm anxious to see if this FSU defense is equipped to handle the offensive onslaught that Clemson with throw at them. They will try to strike early, they will try to strike often, and they will be relentless. I have a feeling that FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has been playing it a little close to the vest during the first few games, and I can't wait to see the goodies that he has up his sleeve for Tajh Boyd & Co. I want to see the FSU defense contain Sammy Watkins, relentlessly pressure Tajh Boyd, and unleash hellfire on the Clemson offense. A Seminole victory would be nice as well.
Weather: (Clemson, SC) 65* at Kickoff / Clear Skies (Except for the bombs Jameis will be dropping)
Vegas: Florida State -3 / Over-Under: 59
Prediction: Peas, TV shows about crime solving or vampires (or crime-solving vampires), that "fruit" drink in milk jugs that they sell at the grocery store, the movie Maid in Manhattan (directed by Wayne Wang - great name) and the butchering of the English language on Facebook are a few of the things in this life that I hate more than picking against the Seminoles. This is going to be a close game all night, and I have no doubt in my mind that both teams bring their 'A' game. Hate to do it, but Clemson takes it at home in the game of the year.
Clemson 38 FSU 34
Bonus Pick: UFC 166 - Cain Velasquez over Junior Dos Santos via 3rd Rd. KO to retain the UFC Heavyweight title.
Tailgate Food of the Week (Courtesy of Epic Meal Time):
Last Weeks Prediction: FSU 38 Maryland 24
Actual Score: FSU 63 Maryland 0