TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Clemson and Florida State showdown this weekend marks the sixth straight year that both teams will be ranked when they square off. Only this time, Florida State will be playing a different role than it is used to.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Clemson and Florida State showdown this weekend marks the sixth straight year that both teams will be ranked when they square off.
Only this time, Florida State will be playing a different role than it is used to.
The third-ranked Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) are looking for their first win at Doak Campbell Stadium since 2006 and another shot at a national title. They face a No. 12 Seminoles squad — who are rarely an underdog at home — looking to play spoiler to Clemson's hopes of making the College Football Playoff for the second straight season.
Florida State (5-2, 2-2) saw its playoff hopes severely diminished with losses to Louisville and North Carolina. Its only fleeting hope would be winning its final five games and hoping for a three-way tie in the Atlantic Division with Clemson and Louisville.
Clemson has won 21 straight regular-season games, including 13 straight in the ACC, but needed overtime two weeks ago to hold off North Carolina State. Quarterback Deshaun Watson said that game was just another example that the margin for error the remainder of the season is very small.
"We got some breaks in the early part of the season," he said. "This game will be nothing different for us. We understand that each game is big."
The Tigers have been in position to win in their last three trips to Tallahassee. In 2010, they lost on a Dustin Hopkins 55-yard field goal as time expired. Two years later, they held a 21-14 lead at halftime before the Seminoles rallied for a 12-point win.
The 2014 game has been a frequent topic of conversation this week. A Watson 2-yard touchdown gave Clemson a 17-10 fourth-quarter lead before FSU tied and eventually won 23-17 in overtime.
"We have played well in spurts down there in the last few years, we just haven't been able to finish," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.
Florida State is considered a home underdog for the first time since facing Oklahoma in 2011. Running back Dalvin Cook said the focus isn't on what could have been but how it can finish the season.
"We're right here, we're 5-2, we're 12 in the nation, we're right where we want to be at," he said. "We've got to take that next step in the second half of the season. I think guys will realize that."
Some other things to watch as Clemson looks for its second ever win in Tallahassee:
GALLMAN'S HEALTH: Count on tailback Wayne Gallman in Clemson's starting lineup. How effective he can be is still a question. Gallman, who came through the concussion protocol during the Tigers' bye week, and Swinney believe the injury won't have any lingering affects against the Seminoles.
COOK'S HEISMAN HOPES: Cook remains a longshot for the Heisman but has been averaging 227.5 total yards in his past four games with six touchdowns. Cook also leads backs in Power 5 conferences in rushing yards with 900.
UNDER PRESSURE: Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois has been sacked 22 times, which is among the most in college football. Clemson's defense is tied for fourth in the nation in sacks and will look to limit the Seminoles to short throws.
WILSON'S ABSENSE: Florida State wide receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson, who is third in the nation in punt returns, is out due to a foot injury he suffered in the Oct. 15 win over Wake Forest. Wilson is also second on the team in receptions (30) and yards (390). Sophomore Nyqwan Murray will take the senior's place on punt returns.
KEEP AN EYE ON: The receivers. Clemson's Mike Williams and Florida State's Travis Rudolph are coming off career highs in their last game. Williams had 12 catches for 146 yards and a TD against North Carolina State and Rudolph had 13 receptions for 238 yards against Wake.
AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli contributed to this report from Clemson, South Carolina.
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