The Florida State-Clemson series went from one that was important inside the ACC to one of the most nationally relevant games in the entire country each year. Last season, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney snapped a three-game losing streak to the Noles, and won at home in Death Valley, 23-13. The victory marked the beginning of the Tigers' quest for a national title. It hasn't always been this way, but this is now a great rivalry.
After falling short of that quest by losing to Alabama, 45-40, in the College Football Playoff National Championship, the Tigers have been seeking to get back to that stage all season long. Clemson remains undefeated and is first in the ACC Atlantic division, with close wins over Louisville and N.C. State under its belt. A win over Florida State is critical for remaining in the national title hunt.
The Noles, on the other hand, have had a season that has been far from the expectations that were set at the start of 2016. Florida State's first loss came at the hands of Louisville on the road, 63-20. Then, the Noles inexplicably lost at home to UNC, 37-35, dropping them down to third in the ACC Atlantic standings. However, FSU is undoubtedly motivated to have the opportunity to ruin the Tigers' postseason chances on Saturday. It just won't be easy.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 8:22 p.m. ET, ABC. Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be on the call with Samantha Ponder on the sidelines.
Radio: Florida State, Clemson
Online streaming: Saturday night's game can be live streamed through WatchESPN.
Spread: Clemson is currently a 3-point favorite.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation’s team blog chats for this game at Shakin The Southland for Clemson fans and Tomahawk Nation for FSU fans.
Three big things to know
1. Clemson has had some close calls this season: Yes, the Tigers are 7-0, but those victories haven't been without some nail-biter games. The Tigers snuck past Auburn and Troy in the first two weeks of the season, winning by just six points in both matchups. The Louisville game was also hard-fought by the Cardinals, and two weeks ago against NC State, they needed overtime to put the Wolfpack away, 24-17.
2. Dalvin Cook will be key for the Noles offense: The junior running back shined in last year's 23-13 loss to the Tigers, rushing for 194 rushing yards and a touchdown. So far this season, Cook has rushed for 900 yards and seven touchdowns. Cook won't have to carry the load of the Noles offense this year, however -- redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois has thrown for over 1,800 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with just three interceptions.
3. Clemson has a two-game edge in the Atlantic standings: Yes, this game has decided the ACC Atlantic winner for the last seven years, but this season the Tigers will need to do more than just lose to FSU to lose their grasp on the division lead. With the win over Louisville earlier in the season, and the Cardinals sitting in second in the division, the Tigers would still have to lose to either Wake Forest or Syracuse to ruin their chances at playing for an ACC title, if the Noles win this weekend.