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Clemson Football Oppo Research: Florida State Seminoles

Clemson football’s biggest game of the year will take place in early October at the stadium of the defending ACC champions, and the man behind center is a household name.

What: Clemson Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles

When: October 5, time to be determined

Where: Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida

Series history: Florida State leads the series 21-15-0. They defeated Clemson 31-24 in Death Valley last season. FSU’s last home win against the Tigers came in 2014.

Florida State Statistics 2023

All stats per teamrankings.com against FBS competition only

Points per game: 32.8 (23rd)

Yards per game: 392.2 (54th)

Points allowed per game: 19.8 (19th)

Yards allowed per game: 340.2 (31st)

Mike Norvell has received a lot of credit for the way he built Florida State into a program that competes for ACC Championships and College Football Playoffs. Now we’ll find out how the ebb and flow of heavy use of the transfer portal from season to season can affect a program’s position.

As you can see from the stats above, FSU had a defense in the Top 20. They tended to short-field their offense. Their offense was very good when they had Jordan Travis at quarterback and they rarely failed to take advantage of those short fields. The defense was still very good after Travis was injured, but the result was an offense that did just enough to win but not much more.

The question now is how former Clemson & Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei will fill the void left by Travis’ departure. Most agree he will be an upgrade over Tate Rodemaker and Brock Glenn, but he is not the same kind of quarterback as Travis. Norvell will have to tailor his offense to DJU’s strengths.

Norvell will have to do that while replacing most of the rest of the offense. Only four starters return from 2023, and none are at wide receiver. Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson, along with Jaheim Bell, were a huge factor in the Seminoles’ success.

The good news for FSU is that three of those offensive starters are on the offensive line. DJU is at his best when he has time to go through his progressions, put his feet on the ground and make a pass.

Trey Benson is gone, but the dangerous Lawrance Toafili returns.

The defense also only produces four starters, but there are several transfers. The most familiar name to FSU fans is Marvin Jones, Jr., the son of Seminole legend Marvin Jones. In the secondary, they return both Azareye’h Thomas and Fentrell Cypress, who will form one of the best cornerback duos in the country.

There are always exceptions, but most people seem to agree that Florida State probably won’t be as good as last season, but the portal additions will keep them from falling far. There is less agreement on whether this step back will allow other teams to catch up.

Most preseason rankings have FSU repeating as ACC champions and earning a spot in the playoffs, but it’s far from convincing. Nearly as many rankings favor Clemson to return to the top of the league, while a few others favor NC State in 2024.

One thing we do know is that with the expanded 12-team playoff automatically guaranteeing a spot for five conference champions, this game is by far the most important of the season for both programs.