The game won’t have the huge conference and national implications for both teams as originally thought, but No. 3 Clemson is looking to remain in the playoff hunt and maintain its healthy division lead. Louisville is lurking, and No. 12 Florida State has the talent to beat Clemson and make November much more interesting in the ACC.
David Hale and Jared Shanker break down Saturday’s game (8 p.m. ET, ABC/WatchESPN)
Matchup Clemson has to win: The Tigers’ offensive line hasn’t been terrible this year, but it definitely hasn't met expectations, and that can be a concern against an FSU pass rush that is very good. Overall, Deshaun Watson’s sack rate is down, but he’s been forced to get rid of the ball earlier than he’d like, which has resulted in a lower completion percentage. Teams have also done a good job of containing him in the pocket, and his production as a runner is off significantly. Clemson will need to block DeMarcus Walker & Co. to open up some big-play opportunities. -- Hale
Matchup Florida State has to win: An offense that stagnates in opposing territory early in games has to find a way to put up points against a suffocating first-half defense. Against Power 5 teams, the Seminoles are 52nd among Power 5 teams in points per drive in the first half, thanks in large part to an offense that scores just 47 percent of the time when it reaches the opponents’ 40-yard line. Clemson’s defense is second in points per drive in the first half. If Florida State can’t score touchdowns or at least make its field-goal attempts, it could be out of the game at halftime. -- Shanker
Clemson offensive X-factor: Wayne Gallman is expected back from a concussion that kept him out of the bulk of the Tigers’ game against NC State. He hasn't been as explosive this year, but in his last matchup with Florida State, he wore down the Seminoles’ defense and ran for 103 yards and a touchdown, with 71 yards and the score coming in the second half of the Tigers' 23-13 victory. He had just two runs stopped for a loss or no gain in the game. -- Hale
Florida State offensive X-factor: Junior receiver Travis Rudolph has had some big games, but he hasn't been a consistent threat during his career. More than a third of his 1,811 career yards against FBS teams have come in three games. He failed to break 40 receiving yards in four straight games this season, but he had the best game of his career on Oct. 15 against Wake Forest. He caught 13 passes for 238 yards, and it came with senior receiver Jesus Wilson out for most of the game. Rudolph will need to make up for the loss of Wilson again Saturday against a strong secondary. -- Shanker
Clemson defensive X-factor: Kendall Joseph has come into his own this year at linebacker, and his role could be huge against Florida State. A year ago, B.J. Goodson — the man Joseph replaced on this year’s D — had a team-high nine tackles, including 3.5 for a loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Joseph has been exceptional in that role this year, ranking second on the team in both tackles (50) and TFL (6). -- Hale
Florida State defensive X-factor: Sophomore Tarvarus McFadden is tied for the national lead with five interceptions, but he’s also given up a handful of big plays. The former blue-chip recruit is getting better each week, though. If he can lock down Mike Williams with the help of established cornerback Marquez White and potentially make a sixth interception, the Seminoles would be in good shape. -- Shanker
Hale’s prediction: Clemson’s offense has made myriad costly mistakes this year, and you need not look any further than the 2014 game in Tallahassee to see what that can mean against Florida State. I expect the Tigers to be much sharper on offense this time around, but I'd still be surprised if there are massive fireworks for either team. Watson will make a few plays to extend drives, however, and the Tigers defense will be tough. Clemson 24, Florida State 20.
Shanker’s prediction: It could be another slog for a second straight year as both teams are playing solid defensively entering the game. I have more confidence in Clemson’s offense despite the red-zone turnovers, because Florida State’s offense just doesn’t do much scoring in the first half. This will be close all the way through, but Clemson by a field goal, 24-21.