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ACC Preview: #4 Florida vs. #10 Florida State, #11 Clemson vs. #12 South Carolina

It’s a full day of games in the ACC and two of them will highlight the schedule. In the battle of one state, two conferences, and identical records, there’s the #4 Florida (10-1, 7-1) vs. #10 Florida State (10-1, 7-1) game.

In the other in-state rivalry matchup, Clemson (10-7, 7-1) takes on South Carolina (9-2, 6-2) and will try to end a three-game losing streak against them.

Florida vs. Florida State

Florida State QB EJ Manuel

In the battle of the Sunshine State, Florida enters its final game of the season with only one loss and a possible chance for a national title opportunity but the stars will need to align. They need a USC victory over #1 Notre Dame and Alabama and Georgia losses.

Florida couldn’t have selected a tougher challenger.

Florida State, also with one loss, has the sole bragging right of the only team nationally to rank in the top 14 in 10 statistical categories; this includes both total offense and total defense. The Seminoles defense sits at the top for total defense (236.3) , #1 in yards per game (70.6 ), #5 in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) and pass defense (165.6) and #3 pass efficiency defense (96.6).

The Seminoles have quarterback EJ Manuel with his 2,785 yards to-date, a 68.8 percent completion percentage, 21 touchdowns and six picks.

Helping Manuel is running back Devonta Freeman. Last week against Maryland, he ran for a career-high 148 yards on 16 carries with two scores.

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel will return after sitting out last week with a sprained ankle. His stats pale in comparison with 1,324 yards, a 65 percent pass completion, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.

His offense has been struggling to score lately and in the team’s last four games, it has averaged 18.3 points.

Florida’s defense has their own bragging rights with its No. 3 rank in points (11.7) and No. 4  in yards (281.0),

The Gators haven’t defeated the Seminoles since 2009 and the drought may continue with Florida State at -7 with a 43.5 over/under.

Clemson vs. South Carolina

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd

The Tigers have battled expectations all season and the possibility of a November swoon. So far they’re exceeded both but they need a win on Saturday to get an at-large BCS bid.

Last week against North Carolina State, Clemson set a single-season scoring record. It represented its seventh straight win that gave them the designation as co-champs of the ACC Atlantic Division. But the Seminoles get the chance at the title game thanks to its win over Clemson earlier this season.

Playing rival South Carolina is whole ‘nother animal.

South Carolina’s defensive line is ranked No. 13 nationally in scoring defense (17.45 points) while Clemson will bring a top offense to the game. It sits at  No. 4 scoring offense (44.64) nationally.

Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will keep busy by having an eye on Clemson’s talented quarterback Tajh Boyd.

He likes to pass and has 3,367 passing yards, a 68% pass completion, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Boyd said of a win against South Carolina via ESPN, “I think it’s a must-win situation for us. It’s one of those deals where it has to happen.”

One of his favorite weapons has been wide receiver DeAndre Hopskins who has 68 receptions for 1,171 yards and 15 touchdowns.

South Carolina has Connor Shaw as its field general. He has 1,732 yards, a 67.3 passing completion rate, 15 touchdowns and seven touchdowns. He can also run and has 121 carries for 339 yards and three touchdowns.

His talented running back Marcus Lattimore is out for the season with a bad knee injury and Shaw has turned to Kenny Miles. He’s no Lattimore and last week against Wofford he had 27 carries for 127 yards and one touchdown.

With a win over Clemson, coach Steve Spurrier will become the school’s winningest coach in history. He has been trashing talk all week and is pretty confident about a win.

The Gamecocks have won three in a row but this could end with Clemson at -4 with a 61.5 over/under.


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