No. 2 Clemson and Florida State have regularly been the powers of the Atlantic Division since the ACC split into two divisions in 2005. And there have even been seasons this decade when the Tigers vs. the Seminoles was the most-anticipated game of the weekend. But we find these teams in different places in 2019, with Clemson separating itself from the rest of the league with a dominance that hasn’t been seen since Florida State held that same role in the conference.
Who wins on Saturday afternoon? Let’s get to some storylines to follow as well as picks against the spread.
Clemson: Dabo Swinney has been on one this week, first bringing back his favorite catch phrase with “The ROY Bus.” The “ROY” stands for “rest of y’all” and his creation represents the outsiders and non-believers when it comes to Clemson’s championship pursuit. The ROY Bus makes its appearance after close wins or when Clemson is being judged negatively for its strength of schedule when compared to the other playoff contenders. He’s also pretty frustrated with questions about Trevor Lawrence’s health, and all of the frustration comes as we approach the first bit of action since getting bounced from the No. 1 spot in the polls on Sept. 29 following the 21-20 win at North Carolina.
How Clemson looks after a week off will be part of how this game is judged, in addition to Florida State having one of the more talented rosters the Tigers will face between now and Selection Sunday. If Lawrence throws three touchdown passes and Clemson covers the massive 27-point spread, I don’t think there’s as much concern about where this team stands among the playoff contenders at the top of the polls.
Florida State: The Seminoles have struggled with execution, but it’s a talented group that has shown high-level potential in flashes during their 3-2 start to the season. Back-to-back wins against Louisville and NC State at home and a week off gives Willie Taggart and his staff a great chance to coach up the mistakes from losses against Boise State and Virginia while maintaining a positivity about where this team can finish at the end of the season. Clemson is the first of three ranked teams left on Florida State’s schedule, plus a rivalry game against Miami at home on Nov. 2. Building on the offensive success, cleaning up mistakes and continuing to work towards that championship form is the challenge for the rest of this season.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 12 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Clemson Memorial Stadium — Clemson, South Carolina
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
Dabo is back on the ROY bus, and he’s about had enough of all of y’all asking questions about Lawrence. I think the Tigers are going to put up 40, and I’m not positive that this Florida State offense will get to 14. Pick: Clemson (-26.5)
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