Haven’t we seen this script written before? It usually goes something like this: Florida State is unbeaten into late September, catapulting into the Top 10 of the national rankings and pundits galore declare the Seminoles as being ‘back.’
On the Tim Brando Show earlier this week, FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher was asked what exactly does ‘being back’ mean, anyway? Fisher replied to Brando, “I have no idea.”
Well, if Jimbo needs a history lesson, we’re honored to provide one. Once upon a time, Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles to a pair of national championships and 14 consecutive top-five finishes.
Since then, however, FSU has lost at least three games for 11 straight seasons and it had four or more losses in 10 of those 11 years.
Nevertheless, the oddsmakers in Nevada are bullish on the ‘Noles, who were 14 ½-point favorites over Clemson at most spots as of Friday afternoon. The total for ‘over/under’ wagers was 56. Gamblers can take the Tigers on the money line for a generous plus-450 return (risk $100 to win $450).
FSU (3-0 straight up, 1-0 against the spread) beat up on a pair of FCS foes before opening its ACC slate with a 52-0 clubbing of Wake Forest as a 28-point home ‘chalk’ last Saturday. E.J. Manuel threw a pair of touchdowns passes without being intercepted and also rushed for a 16-yard score. Chris Thompson produced 197 rushing yards and two TDs on only nine carries.
For the season, Manuel is completing 71.2 percent of his throws and has six TD passes compared to just one interception. Thompson is averaging an incredible 14.1 yards per carry, while James Wilder Jr. has four rushing TDs and a 6.9 YPC average.
The ‘Noles have outscored their three foes by a combined score of 176-3.
Clemson (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) has dominated FSU in recent years, winning outright in five of the last seven head-to-head meetings while going 6-1 ATS. The Tigers collected a 35-30 win as 2 ½-point home favorites last season.
Tajh Boyd torched the FSU defense for 344 passing yards and three TDs without a pick. Sammy Watkins had seven receptions for 141 yards and two TDs.
Dabo Swinney’s team has wins over Auburn (26-19), Ball St. (52-27) and Furman (41-7) on its resume. The Tigers took down AU without the services of Watkins, who was suspended for the first two games of the year.
In his season debut last week, Watkins had four catches for 52 yards and a 58-yard TD run against the Paladins. For the year, Boyd has connected on 63-of-86 passes (73.3%) for 747 yards with a 6/1 TD-INT ratio. Senior RB Andre Ellington has rushed for 331 yards and four TDs, averaging 6.1 YPC.
During Swinney’s five-year tenure, Clemson has compiled a 5-2 spread record as a road underdog. Meanwhile, FSU owns an 8-6 ATS mark as a home favorite under Fisher.
The ‘over’ is 6-2 in the last eight encounters between these ACC adversaries.
ABC will provide television coverage at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--When these squads met at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee two years ago, FSU won by a 16-13 count but the Tigers took the money as 6 ½-point underdogs.
--Because the rest of the ACC Atlantic looks extremely soft, this game has a Tennessee-Florida (circa 1990s) type feel to it. In other words, the loop will likely be decided Saturday night, as the Clemson-FSU winner will obviously have the inside track to get to the ACC title game.
--LSU owns a 12-7-2 ATS record as a road favorite during Les Miles’s eight-year tenure. The Bayou Bengals are enormous 21-point favorites Saturday at Auburn.
--Auburn owns a 4-1 spread record in five games as a home underdog on Gene Chizik’s watch.
--Kentucky is 2-6 ATS as a double-digit underdog under Joker Phillips. The ‘Cats are catching 24 points Saturday at Florida, which has beaten UK in 25 straight head-to-head meetings.
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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