NCAA Football Picks ATS: Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers

Jimbo Fisher searches for answers with a freshman starting at quarterback, after DeAndre Francois’ season-ending Week 1 injury

Time: 2:30 PM CT
Spread: CLE -16.5
Total: 46

Odds c/o 5dimes

Prior to this season, fans would have circled this game as a major rivalry game, destined to be both exciting and close. Of course, instead, this season has been something of a disaster for Florida State, who faces Clemson this week as 16.5-point underdogs in a game that will air at 2:30 (CT) on ESPN.

The over/under is set at 46 points according to college football oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.

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Clemson is 8-1 this season and has the best chance at top-4 resume to get into the BCS playoffs. The Tigers have won two-straight since dropping a game to Syracuse three weeks ago. Clemson defeated NC State 38-31 last week as Tavien Foster ran for an 89-yard TD in the third quarter and K’Von Wallace intercepted Ryan Finley on the game’s final play. Clemson still dropped two spots in the AP rankings with the narrow win, but it was happy to secure victory against a then-ranked No. 20 Wolfpack team.

Clemson QB Kelly Bryant threw 20 of 38 for 191 yards with a TD and one intercepted pass, but Foster had 105 yards on just seven carries, and Bryant did his thing rushing, too, with 88 yards on his 20 rush attempts. Wide receiver Deon Cain had a big game, catching nine passes for 84 yards and a TD.

Clemson improved to 6-1 in Conference play, and its defense has had plenty to do with it. Though Clemson is strong offensively (32.9 points per game) its defense ranks No. 8 in the nation in surrendering just 15.1 points per game.

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The Tigers have a No. 23 ranked rush offense that generates 220.2 yards per game, with Bryant leading the team in rushing with 548 yards on 133 carries and a team-high nine rushing TDs. Clemson has 27 rushing TDs on the year, with Travis Etienne being another favorite red zone target with his seven rushing TDs.

Cain leads the team in receiving yards with 440 on 37 catches and four TDs, but Clemson has gone into the end zone in the air just nine times this season. The predictability of its red zone attack has hardly hurt, though, and Clemson averages 10.5 yards per catch this season. It is a team well-balanced to contend for a National Title this season, to be sure.

Florida State’s season has been a disaster since losing starting Quarterback DeAndre Francois in week 1. Since then, the Seminoles have lost to NC State, Miami, Louisville and Boston College, in what has been the Seminoles’ worst season in over 30 years. Last week, FSU dropped Syracuse 27-24, but nothing has come easy for Jimbo Fisher’s club this year. James Blackman is starting at quarterback as a true freshman, but he has struggled badly: 59.1 percent completions, 7.1 yards per catch and nearly as many INTs (7) as TDs (8).

Cam Akers has done a good job out of the backfield with 695 yards on 127 carries with a team-high three rushing TDs.

But Florida State has just five rushing TDs on the year, and if not for Auden Tate’s work at WR, it’s unclear how this team would manage to score the ball. Tate has five receiving TDs, and he is second on the team in total yardage with 386 yards, but the Florida State Seminoles are making too many offensive mistakes to look like the team most anticipated it would be coming into this season. Blackman is not ready, yet, and he was not supposed to be, but losing Francois crippled the Seminoles’ offense and made them “just another team” in a season expected to have gone far better than it has.

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