College GameDay travels to Tallahassee this weekend for the second top-10 showdown of the season, when the fourth-ranked Florida State Seminoles host the 10th-ranked Clemson Tigers at 8 ET Saturday night on ABC.
This is the ACC’s chance to take center stage on national television. The winner of this game likely emerges as the conference’s best (and only) threat to play in the BCS National Championship Game, as Virginia Tech’s loss last week to Pittsburgh took the Hokies out of contention.
These teams have met every year since 1992 -- the year Florida State joined the ACC. What started as a lopsided affair has turned in Clemson’s favor. Starting in 1992, Florida State won 11 straight meetings. Since then, Clemson has won six of the nine meetings, including a 35-30 victory last year.
Seminoles dominating ‘D’
Florida State has outscored its three opponents this season 176-3, by far the best point differential in FBS this season. The Seminoles are the first team since Texas Tech in 2005 to win three straight games by at least 50 points each.
Florida State Defense 2012 Season
Florida State’s defense has been absolutely dominant. Among teams that have played three games, FSU is the only one to not allow a touchdown this season. The Seminoles have also forced 22 “3 and Outs” in 42 opponent drives, the most of any team.
The Tigers powerful offense will be the toughest test yet for the Seminoles defense. Clemson is averaging nearly 40 points per game and has had 17 plays that gained 25 yards or more this season, tied for the most in FBS.
Andre Ellington is averaging an ACC-best 109 rush yards per game and has gained more yards after contact (199) than Florida State has allowed total rush yards (101) this season. Ellington has also broken for seven runs of 10 yards or longer this season, which is five more than Florida State has given up in three games.
Clemson Passing by Target
Since Start of 2011
Clemson’s dynamic duo
Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins have combined for more than 2,500 yards receiving and 21 touchdown catches since the start of last season. Hopkins stepped up in the absence of Watkins at the start of this season, catching 26-of-29 targets for 319 yards and four touchdowns.
Since 2011, Watkins has been dynamic after the catch, gaining more than 60 percent of his yards after the catch, including 105 against Florida State last season. Hopkins has been more reliable moving the chains, converting 20 more first downs than Watkins.
Stats of the game
Florida State is looking for its first 4-0 start since 2005, when it went on to win the ACC and play in the Orange Bowl. Winning their first four games used to be common for the Seminoles. From 1990-2005, they had a 4-0 start 13 times. They haven’t done it since.
Clemson is looking to start 4-0 in back-to-back seasons. The last time Clemson started 4-0 in back-to-back seasons was more than 70 years ago – in 1940 and 1941.