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Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida
Florida State has looked like one of the best teams in the country in running its record up to 3-0, outscoring its three opponents 176-3. On Saturday night, the fourth-ranked Seminoles will take a giant step up in competition when they host No. 9 Clemson. Florida State’s defense has not seen anything like Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins so far in 2012. It did not do a great job of stopping the talented sophomore in last season’s meeting. Watkins caught a pair of touchdown passes in that game, a 35-30 Clemson triumph. The Tigers have challenged themselves a tad more than Florida State in the early going and have been nearly as impressive offensively the last two weeks.
ABOUT CLEMSON (3-0, 0-0 ACC): Watkins was suspended the first two games of 2012 and eased his way back into things last week against Furman. He made four catches for 52 yards and raced 58 yards for a touchdown on his lone carry. The Tigers’ offense functioned just fine without its top threat in the first two games but should be even more explosive once Watkins gets into the groove. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has a second go-to receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, who is averaging over 100 yards. The Clemson offense has helped mask over some of the problems on defense. The Tigers allowed lightly regarded Furman to complete 20 of 31 passes for 242 yards, but forced two turnovers to keep it to a 41-7 final score. Senior safety Rashard Hall leads the secondary with two interceptions and needs five to tie the school record at 17.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (3-0, 1-0 ACC): The Seminoles surrendered 344 passing yards to Boyd last season, with Watkins accounting for 141 on seven catches. Things have been better on defense in 2012, with Florida State averaging 1.0 points allowed. That pesky field goal came in Week 1 against Murray State. The Seminoles opened the ACC slate with a 52-0 drubbing of Wake Forest last weekend. Defensive end Bjoern Werner has seven sacks through the first three games and is anchoring a line that has allowed under two yards per play. The first-team offense has barely played in the second half of the first three games, but senior running back Chris Thompson has rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries and senior quarterback E.J. Manuel is completing 71.2 percent of his passes.
1. The home team has taken each of the last five and nine of the last 10 in the series.
2. Florida State has held opponents to 19 points or fewer in 11 straight games.
3. Clemson OG David Beasley (knee), LB Jonathan Willard (shoulder), RB D.J. Howard (shoulder), OG Tyler Shatley (ankle) and DT DeShawn Williams (foot) are all probable for Saturday.
PREDICTION: Florida State 35, Clemson 28