Home > College Football, Div-I FBS > College Football Morning: Clemson/Florida State Must Decide who plays for ACC Title

College Football Morning: Clemson/Florida State Must Decide who plays for ACC Title

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It’s only for the Atlantic division of the ACC, but we’re going to have a front runner at the end of the day today.

It’s the classic offense vs. defense match-up.  With Florida State, you have a quarterback in Christian Ponder who is probably the best quarterback to play at FSU since Chris Weinke won the Heisman.  And at Clemson, the analysts might have been a year premature on them, but they feature one of the best defenses in school history.

But these are two very flawed teams because they sit at a combined 7-7 in FBS play.  They both feature a quality win over a top ten opponent;  FSU crushing BYU when the Cougars were undefeated, and Clemson held off 10th ranked Miami in OT.

When Clemson has struggled this year, it’s been because of the offense.  Their offense combined for 31 total points in back to back losses to TCU and Maryland.  Redshirt Freshman Kyle Parker is completing just a hair over 50% of his passes on the year, but CJ Spiller and Andre Ellington have provided a strong rushing attack in spite of little help with the passing game.

Though it’s been inconsistent, the passing game has been very productive as wins.  While his completion percentage suggests Parker isn’t getting it done, he has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and 10 TDs.  In their conference wins over Wake Forest, Miami, and Boston college, they’ve averaged better than 34 PPG.  Clemson would have to be considered the more balanced team in the match-up.

On the other side, it’s Florida State’s secondary which has left the Seminoles unable to separate from the pack.  Since the whooping of BYU on September 19, Florida State’s largest margin of victory is three points.  And it’s not for lack of scoring: they’ve averaged 38.3 PPG over their last three games, but they are only +1 in scoring margin in the same timeframe.

Clemson might have the best defense that the Seminoles have seen to this point, but I don’t think this game will be settled when FSU has the football.  It’s been too easy for Jimbo Fisher’s offense to move the football to suddenly think we’re looking at a 17-14 game tonight.  The game will probably be decided by how well the Tigers can protect Parker, and then by how well he can deliver the football.

If FSU doesn’t break out of the gates fast in the first quarter, it allows the Clemson running game to be a factor at home, advantage Clemson.  But Florida State’s games all year have been decided by quarterback play.  Parker’s biggest advantage in this game will be the swiss cheese secondary for Florida State, but his biggest adversary might be himself.  Because of FSU’s pace of play, Clemson cannot afford to give away the football, or they’ll be chasing the whole game.

Depending on tonight’s big outcome, we’ll have a clear favorite in the Atlantic division to challenge Georgia Tech for the right to play in a BCS bowl.  The frontrunner will be a flawed team, one way or another, but it could be worse:  it could be Kansas State getting a shot at the conference championship.  The ACC will settle it on the field tonight.

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