After a scare in Chapel Hill and a bye week to recover, Clemson returned to Death Valley take on Florida State in a matchup that has lost some of its luster in recent years. Once the game that pretty much determined the ACC champion, the Seminoles have not done well lately despite having a roster loaded with top-level talent. The Tigers were heavily favored but still wary of the talent that the Seminoles possess. Listening to the national press over the last couple of weeks, one would think that Clemson’s close victory against UNC was so bad that the Tigers didn’t even belong in the top 25. Would the Tigers play well enough to silence the critics?
Due to the Michigan-Illinois game’s running late, I missed the first four minutes when Clemson went up 7-0 on a shovel pass from Trevor Lawrence to Travis Etienne. On Clemson’s next possession, Lawrence hit Amari Rodgers on a hitch and an FSU penalty moved the Tigers out to their 35. Lyn-J Dixon pushed it out to the 41. On 3rd & 5, Lawrence was pressured and rolled but couldn’t connect with a receiver. The Will Spiers punt put the Noles at their 30 yard line. The Tiger defense gave FSU nothing but fits on their possession and the Noles had to punt. The Tigers took over at their 34. Etienne took a handoff on 1st down and got 7. On the next play he took a flare pass for 8. Rodgers took a pitch for 5 into FSU territory. Diondre Overton took the next pass down to the Nole 37. Justyn Ross then too a pass down to the 26. Tee Higgins picked up 4 yards as the Tigers were running plays quickly. Etienne picked up 12 down to the FSU 10. On 1st & goal, Etienne picked up 2 more running like he was a man on a mission. Lawrence then took it in for the score. Clemson was up 14-0 with 4:41 left in the 1st quarter.
FSU took over at the 25 and picked up 4 on 1st down. They picked up the 1st down on a shovel pass. Tanner Muse picked off a poorly thrown ball by FSU QB Alex Hornibrook who came in after starter James Blackman had proved ineffective. The Tigers started at the Nole 42. The 1st down pass was batted down but Lawrence caught it for a 15-yard loss. I’m not sure what he was thinking there. On 2nd down the downfield coverage was good, so Lawrence scrambled for 10 yards. Lyn-J Dixon picked up 5 and then the Tigers had a false start. Dixon picked up 9 yards to set up 3rd & 1. Etienne picked up the first down with 12 yards and then Lawrence got 4 yards with a nice fake on an option. With 2nd & 6 from the FSU 22, Etienne got tripped up setting up 3rd & 5. Lawrence took another option play for the 1st down. Etienne picked up a couple and then Lawrence threw a beautiful, low pass to Ross but he couldn’t hold onto it as he fell to the ground. But on the next play, the two connected for the TD on a post route. Clemson led 21-0 at the 13:13 point in the 2nd quarter.
Potter’s kick sailed through the end zone and FSU took over at the 25. With Blackman back in at QB, the Noles picked up good yardage on 1st down but the Tiger defense stiffened and forced the punt. On 1st down from the Tiger 22, Dixon weaved his way through the Nole defense out to the 38. Rolling right away from pressure, Lawrence hit Joseph Ngata to move the Tigers to the Nole 40. Dixon got a couple and then Lawrence hit Rodgers over the middle down to the 15 and then scrambled down to the 8. Then he hit Ross over the middle and Ross powered his way into the end zone. Clemson led 28-0 with 8:85 left in the half.
The Noles took over at the 25. Blackman tried to hit a receiver who got behind Derion Kendrick, but Kendrick recovered and knocked it down. On the next play, the Tiger defense stuffed FSU RB Cam Akers to set up 3rd & 15 and the Noles couldn’t convert it. Clemson took over at their 40 and Cornell Powell and Etienne picked up 8 yards but Lawrence was picked off and the Noles took over at their 36. Clemson’s defense went off on the Noles and on 3rd down Isaiah Simmons forced a fumble that went out of bounds. Clemson took over at their 45 after the punt.
Dixon picked up 6 on 1st down and then J.C. Chalk took a pass for 8 yards for the 1st down. Rodgers picked up 6 on a short pass. Rodgers then got the 1st down at the 30. On 2nd down Etienne took a draw down to the 10. He picked up another 5 and on 2nd down Lawrence tried to hit Ross in the end zone but he was pushed out of bounds by the FSU defender and no pass interference was called. Lawrence ran down to the 2. The beef package came in on 4th down and Xavier Thomas took the handoff but he couldn’t get in. FSU got the ball at the 2 with about a minute left. A couple of plays later, a Blackman pass was tipped at the line and picked off by Chad Smith. Clemson had the ball at the FSU 15 with 40 seconds left in the half. They eventually settled for a B.T. Potter FG attempt but it sailed wide right. FSU ran the clock out and the half ended with Clemson up 28-0.
FSU got the ball first in the 2nd half and took over at the 25. They couldn’t do much and punted. Kendrick fielded the fair catch at the Tiger 33. Etienne picked up 8 on 1st down and another yard on 2nd down. On 3rd down, he muscled his way for a couple of yards to move the chains. On the next play, he got loose for 27 down to the Nole 29. Rodgers then took it to the end zone untouched. Clemson led 35-0.
FSU started at the 25 and promptly committed a false start. Nolan Turner picked off Blackman but a holding penalty negated it. A few plays later, Blackman sailed a pass into the flat and Kendrick picked it off. He went untouched into the end zone. The score was 42-0 with 9:39 left in the 3rd quarter.
Cam Akers broke loose on a run up the middle but fumbled when he was hit and the Tigers recovered. But Dixon promptly fumbled on the next play and FSU recovered. The Noles did absolutely nothing and had to punt. The Tigers took over at their 15. Chase Brice came in at QB and Chez Mellusi picked up a yard on 1st down. Brice hit Powell on 2nd down and set up 3rd & 5. He then looked at T.J. Chase on a long throw and the FSU defender committed pass interference. Mellusi took a delayed handoff on 2nd down to get 8. Taisun Phommachanh came in at QB but couldn’t pick up the necessary 2 yards. Clemson lined up to punt and FSU jumped offside. After some penalties, Brice hit Ngata for a 1st down at the Nole 33. A few plays later, the Tigers were at 4th & 8 at the Nole 31. Brice ran it but couldn’t quite get to the marker.
FSU took over at their 25. A few plays into their drive, the Noles struck on a 63-yard pass against the Tiger reserves. The score was 42-7 with about 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Clemson’s drive with the backups didn’t net much and Spiers pinned the Noles at their own 3. FSU was equally ineffective on their possession and punted it back. Kendrick took the fair catch at the Tiger 43. Dixon ran a couple of times and then got a 1st down on a screen pass. A personal foul set the Tigers back and they faced a 3rd & 27. A draw play to Dixon only netted a couple. The punt was fielded and returned to the FSU 9.
FSU didn’t do anything on their possession and punted it back. Clemson took over at midfield. Phommachanh was back in at QB and moved the Tigers deep into Nole territory but couldn’t convert a 3rd & 8 from the 9. Steven Sawicki kicked the FG to put the Tigers up 45-7 with about 5 minutes left. The Noles drove into Tiger territory and got another TD from 40 yards out gashing the middle of the Tiger defense reserves. Clemson led 45-14 with just under 3 minutes left. FSU tried an onside kick but Clemson recovered the ball. The Tigers burned up some time but eventually had to punt. FSU ran a few plays but accomplished nothing. The game ended with a 45-14 Tiger win.
So the Tigers came out and handled their business today. I predict that the national media reaction to the Georgia loss to the Gamecocks will be that Georgia still belongs in the playoff hunt and Clemson still hasn’t played anyone, so they don’t belong. I think that bodes well for the Tigers and their us against the world mentality. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below. Check back in over the next few days to get reviews of today’s game and previews of the road game at Louisville next week. Thanks for stopping by.