Friday, September 15, 2006

Bowden Bowl IX - This Time It's Personal

Finally we have reached Football Nirvana - September 16 when seemingly the entire Top 25 will be involved in key showdowns that will determine the course of the National Championshp race for the rest of the year. Over on they are pimping the seven (SEVEN!) games between ranked teams including the two huge SEC games and the Miami/Louisville battle for ACC/Big East supremacy. A week ago it looked like there would be eight great games, but Clemson's one-point OT loss to Boston College knocked them from the rankings. What does that mean for FSU? Jack squat... this is still the key game of the whole year. Win and we're in great shape for the ACCCG, lose and the team's collective psyche is crushed while we're forced to play catch-up to Boston College.

It's not inconceivable that Bowden Bowl IX could chart the course for both programs for the next few years. A loss here and Clemson's hopes for a New Year's Day bowl are all but dashed before October...again. This has been a recurring theme under Tommy Bowden and is surely wearing the patience of the Clemson faithful awfully thin. Another sad offensive showing for the 'Noles on the heels of last week's embarrassment against Troy and the howls of protest from the FSU faithful will reach a fever pitch...again. So who has the edge in this Oedipal conflict?

FSU Offense vs. Clemson Defense - It's hard to say that FSU's offense has an edge against anyone these days, but this is a badly depleted Clemson defense. Star MLB Anthony Waters was lost for the year with a torn ACL, starting CB CJ Gaddis is out, and All-American DE Gaines Adams is banged up. A depleted secondary should have Drew Weatherford licking his chops, but so far FSU's receiving corps has been underwhelming. FSU desperately needs to get the running game going in order to force Clemson's safeties into the box and open up some space for Greg Carr to work one-on-one. Hopefully after the Troy debacle FSU's coaches have been challenging the OL to quit slap-fighting the DL, and for FSU RBs run through the holes instead of taking a Capital Circle-esque route around the line of scrimmage. Taking it right at the young Clemson D should wear them down and lead to favorable match-ups for the FSU WRs. At the beginning of the year this appeared to be a major advantage for Clemson, but with all of the star defenders for Clemson that are out or playing hurt and the added motivation for an FSU offense that has a lot to prove I have to give a slight edge to FSU.
Do the ongoing offensive woes signal
the end of the Bowden era?

Clemson Offense vs. FSU Defense - Clemson isn't the only team dealing with key injuries. Players getting hurt is never good, but losing your starting NG right before you go up against the ACC's best backfield is a disaster. Paul Griffin had looked great in the 'Noles first two games and his absence, on top of all the other injuries to the FSU DL, could have a major impact on the outcome of the game. FSU must find a way to slow down James Davis, Reggie Meriweather, and CJ Spiller or the 'Noles defense will be on the field all day. Even if they can stop the Tigers running game the FSU secondary still has to find a way to contain Clemson's Chansi Stuckey, who lit up FSU last year. Thankfully a dependable second receiver hasn't emerged yet for the Tigers so the 'Noles should be able to focus on Stuckey. I would have given FSU an advantage in this match-up but with Griffin, Emanuel Dunbar, and Aaron Jones all out with injuries ad Letroy Guion hobbled the edge shifts over to Clemson and their strong running game.

Could Bowden have another promising
season derailed in September?

Special Teams - Gary Cismesia missed a FG last week but he hit the one he had to hit a week after going 2-for-2 agsint Miami. The punting game has looked good so far and punt coverage has been outstanding. The one concern for FSU has been kickoff coverage, and Jacoby Ford of Clemson is just the sort of returner that could make the 'Noles pay. On the other side Clemson's special teams were awful last week in the BC loss. In fact it was ultimately a blocked extra point that provided the margin of victory for the Eagles. With all the issues the Tigers have had on special teams I give a slight edge to FSU here.

No surprise here, but I like FSU in this game. The night-time atmosphere at Doak Campbell will be electric and FSU should have extra motivation to prove themselves after last week's debacle. the tough loss to Boston College and the mounting injuries have to have had a detrimental effect on the Tiger's psyche. I think the FSU crowd and the rash of key injuries will be too much for Clemson to overcome as FSU wins a tough, physical contest. Go Noles!

No doubt about it, Bowden needs a big win this weekend


At 10:11 AM, Blogger Broken Gnome said...

It's only Bowden Bowl VIII. I only mention it since BBI was my freshman year, and I'm trying to not think about how long ago that was.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Clem said...

Good Luck Mobius. I see an entirely offensive game with remnants of west coast scores. As mentioned, both defenses are hurting big time so it will be interesting to watch FSU pick apart the secondary while Clemson tears up the clock with the ground game.


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