Watch it: FSU coach Willie Taggart talks increased confidence
Wayne McGahee III, Tallahassee Democrat

Florida State hosts No. 2 Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) Saturday and the Tigers are big favorites to come out with the win.

The Seminoles (4-3, 2-3 ACC) are 16.5-point underdogs, which is the largest spread they’ve faced this season after Miami was favored by 13.5 points.

But what do the numbers say?

FSU offense vs. Clemson defense

Stats FSU offense Clemson defense
S&P+ ranking 109 2
Points per game 25.1 13.4
Yards per play 5.24 4.04
Yards per pass attempt 7.4 6.6
Yards per carry 2.92 2.58
Sacks 18 21
Tackles for loss 61 65
Redzone TD % 66.67 52.63
3rd down % 32.41 26.61

The FSU offense was abysmal to start the season, but have seen improvement in every facet over the past few games. The Seminoles have found success with big plays in the passing game with 12 passes of 30 yards or more, but have struggled to consistently move the football, especially the run game.

FSU’s offensive line has been getting better, but hasn’t faced the talent that it will see against the Tigers.

The Clemson defense is one of the best in the country with one of the best defensive lines in college football. The Tigers are one of the best run stopping teams in college football and do an exceptional job of getting after the quarterback. 

The Tigers’ secondary isn’t as good as the rest of the defense, but it’s still a very good unit.

The numbers don’t match up favorably for the Seminoles.

Advantage: Clemson


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FSU defense vs. Clemson offense

Stats FSU defense Clemson offense
S&P+ ranking 21 11
Points per game 24 42
Yards per play 4.65 7.26
Yards per pass attempt 6.6 8.2
Yards per carry 2.6 6.48
Sacks 25 12
Tackles for loss 52 28
Redzone TD % 51.72 70.97
3rd down % 33.88 42.86

The FSU defense has been very good for most of the season and that starts with the Seminoles’ defensive line. FSU’s defensive line has been among the best in the country at getting after the quarterback and the defense as a whole has been excellent against the run. 

The one area where FSU has struggled this season is giving up big passing plays allowing 10 of more than 30 yards due to the aggressive style of defense the Seminoles play.

Clemson’s offense has fired on all cylinders this season with running back Travis Etienne inserting himself in the race for the Heisman Trophy. He’s averaging 8.16 yards per carry and already has 14 touchdowns. Clemson has also been good getting the ball downfield to its talented wide receivers with 14 passing plays of 30 yards or more. 

The Tigers’ offensive line has also been exceptional this season both in the run game and pass blocking. The FSU defensive line against the Clemson offensive line will be a match-up to watch Saturday.

Advantage: Clemson

More: Notebook: Florida State defense leading with passion, energy

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More: Florida State embracing opportunity against No. 2 Clemson

FSU special teams vs. Clemson special teams

Special Teams FSU Clemson
S&P+ ranking 95 77
Field goal % 58.3 63.6
Yards per punt 42.43 39.97
Yards per kickoff return 19.12 26.13
Yards per punt return 14.59 8.39
Yards per punt return allowed 12.16 5.63
Yards per kickoff return allowed 22.33 13.5

The Seminoles’ special teams have been anything but special so far this season. Kicker Ricky Aguayo has struggled to make field goals consistently and the Seminoles have struggled to cover punts and kickoffs effectively.

The two areas that FSU is having success in is punts and punt returns. Logan Tyler has been a bit inconsistent punting, but he’s improved from last season. Punt returner D.J. Matthews has been one of the best returners in college football this season and leads all returners with 254 punt return yards.

Clemson’s special teams haven’t been great either. Punter Will Spiers is averaging just 38.89 yards per punt this season and the Tigers haven’t been consistent with any of the kickers that have attempted a field goal.

Clemson’s return coverage has been very good so far this season and Clemson’s kickoff return unit is 11th best in the country. 

Advantage: Clemson

Florida State vs. No. 2 Clemson

When: Saturday, noon

Where: Doak Campbell Stadium

TV/Radio: ABC/103.1 FM