After three consecutive easy victories, Florida State faces what will likely be its biggest challenge of the regular season, when No. 10 Clemson comes to town. The Tigers have won six of the last nine meetings between the two teams, but FSU is the heavy favorite this time around. Here are the five biggest storylines heading into Saturday's showdown.
1. What will EJ Manuel do on the big stage?
The hype for this game isn't getting to the Florida State quarterback, Manuel insists, but after sitting out last year's loss to Clemson with an injured shoulder, he's eager to get a chance to make his mark. Clint Trickett threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start last season, and Manuel might need to do better this year.
2. Can Florida State's defensive backs handle the Clemson passing game?
A year ago, Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins accounted for nearly 2,200 receiving yards, 219 of which came in a 35-30 win over Florida State. This year, both players are back in peak form, but the FSU secondary has some questions. Tyler Hunter, Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby have just little more than three games of experience under their belts as regulars in the defensive backfield, but they'll need to play like veterans to corral Clemson's deep threats.
3. Will Tajh Boyd have time to throw?
There's no doubt that Watkins and Hopkins are serious weapons for the Tigers' offense, but the bigger question might be whether Boyd has enough time to find his receivers downfield against a ferocious FSU pass rush. Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine added four more sacks to their season totals against Wake Forest, and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney admits he's concerned with how his offensive line will hold up against the Seminoles front four.
4. Does Andre Ellington have the answer to FSU's run defense?
The Seminoles haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 11 games, and they lead the nation in rushing defense so far this season, surrendering just 34 yards per game on the ground. But Ellington, who is averaging 6.2 yards per carry so far this season, will be their biggest test yet. In last year's Clemson win, he was held to just 71 yards.
5. How much has the Clemson defense improved?
The 2011 season was a banner year for ACC champion Clemson, but what will likely be remembered about that team was the 70 points the Tigers allowed to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. After the season, Swinney changed defensive coordinators, bringing in former Oklahoma DC Brent Venables. The scheme is slightly different and the results have been marginally improved through three games, but Manuel and the FSU offense will provide a true test.