After facing the Clemson Tigers in mid-September last season, Florida State will know a great deal more about their identity as a football team this time around when they face the Tigers on November 7th in their ninth game of the 2015 season. This will assuredly be a hungry Clemson team that has lost to the Seminoles each of the past three years and will additionally be a fairly experienced team, especially by the time this game rolls around. Clemson did lose a good deal of talent on defense to the NFL this offseason, including a pair of 1st-round picks in outside linebackers Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony. On offense, Clemson returns many starters from last year's unit, especially at the skill positions. It is clear that Clemson will be the more experienced team when they play Florida State this season but will that be enough? Here is a look at how FSU matches up with Clemson in history, a look back at the most recent matchup, and what factors for the Tigers could influence the game one way or the other.
In the last 12 games between FSU and Clemson, both teams have 6 wins. However, the recent success for Clemson is not indicative of the entire rivalry as FSU holds the all-time lead 20-8, including an eleven game win streak from 1992-2002. Jimbo Fisher is 4-1 in his career against Clemson with the lone loss coming at Clemson in 2011.
Most recent matchup
Last season, in the only game which Jameis Winston missed in his two seasons as Florida State's starting quarterback, the Seminoles survived a close game against the Clemson Tigers behind backup quarterback Sean Maguire as well as a well-timed forced fumble by Eddie Goldman. Clemson, who finished the season ranked No. 1 in the country in total defense, accomplished exactly what they wanted to do by shutting down the running game (FSU had negative rushing yards before Karlos Williams' game winning touchdown run) and making Maguire beat them. Although he had a few rocky moments, that is exactly what he did, going 21-39 for 304 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Florida State's defense struggled at points with stopping Clemson's offensive attack but the Seminoles were able to get the stops when they really needed them, forcing a fumble on what would have almost definitely been the game-winning drive for the Tigers and allowing nothing in overtime by forcing a 4-and-out on Clemson's sole possession in OT, including a humongous no gain on 4th-and-1. Shortly after that, Karlos WIlliams ran in a 12-yard touchdown to clinch the 23-17 against-all-odds win over Clemson.
Clemson season preview
Bill Connelly released his season preview for Clemson today and although the whole thing is worth a read, here are a few important highlights.
If Deshaun Watson can stay healthy, this team is dangerous
Although there is a lot to replace defensively, the talent might be there to do it
A lot of how successful this season can be for Clemson hinges on whether or not Deshaun Watson can stay healthy, a trait that he has not yet demonstrated in his young career. It is tough to predict how this game will turn out considering the game will be over two months into the season and it is still not known exactly how good either of these teams will be. However, this game is high on the list of games that I think Florida State might lose. If Watson is able to remain healthy, I think it is very possible that a Clemson team with very few players on the roster who have ever beaten the Seminoles will enter the game voraciously hungry and take Florida State to the limit with a decent chance of ending their drought.