Preview and Prediction: Clemson vs. Florida Atlantic

Death Valley will host its first prime-time game of the 2023 season on Saturday, Sept. 16, when the Clemson Tigers host the Florida Atlantic Owls. Kickoff at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C., is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

Clemson is 45-15-1 all-time in night games at Memorial Stadium. That includes a 21-3 record under the Death Valley lights in Dabo Swinney’s tenure. Clemson has not lost a prime-time game at home since October 2013. Clemson is one of two teams in the country to rank in the Top 10 in both total offense (550.5 yards per game, 7th) and total defense (223.5, T-8th).

Clemson’s defense vaulted into the Top 10 after surrendering only 73 yards and four first downs a week ago. After two games, Clemson ranks ninth in the nation in pass defense (118.0 yards per game) following a season in which the Tigers ranked 76th nationally at 231.7 yards allowed per game in 2022.

Offensively, Clemson’s productivity has been built on balance, where the Tigers join Florida State, Georgia Tech and Oregon as the only teams in the country to rank in the Top 25 in both rushing offense and passing offense per game. The Tigers also lead the nation with 33.0 first downs per game.

Clemson has recorded exactly 100 first downs in three games since Cade Klubnik ascended to the starting quarterback role late last year, the Tigers’ most in a threegame span in school history, surpassing two separate three-game stretches with 95 first downs late in 2016. In Klubnik’s three career starts, Clemson has averaged 311 passing yards, 217 rushing yards, 528 yards of offense and 33 first downs.

Last week, Clemson’s point totals in his starts finally started to match the offense’s yardage production with him at the helm. Whereas Clemson’s 906 yards and 63 first downs in his first two starts resulted in a total of 21 points, the Tigers racked up 66 points, 679 yards and 37 first downs against Charleston Southern with 45 of the points coming on drives engineered by the sophomore signal-caller.

Clemson has accrued 484, 422 and 679 yards in Klubnik’s first three career starts. Klubnik became only the third quarterback in Clemson history to help the Tigers reach 400 yards of offense in each of their first three starts, joining current Clemson offensive player development assistant Tajh Boyd in 2011 and 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence in 2018.


Zach: The Tigers have one week left before their huge matchup with FSU and a final tuneup before arguably the biggest game of the season. While the natural inclination is for the Tigers to be looking ahead to the third-ranked Seminoles, I believe they come out ready to make a statement and they finally put four quarters of football together.

Clemson 56, FAU 10

Brad: Clemson has a lot to work through and still a ton to prove this week. FAU is coming off a terrible loss to Ohio and should be at a huge disadvantage physically against the Tigers. However, until Clemson, which has turned the ball over five times this season and 22 times in the last nine games (dating back to last year) quits giving the ball away, it’s hard to bank on the Tigers enjoying utter domination.

Clemson 34, FAU 7

Jason: After the disastrous start against Charleston Southern, the Clemson offense started to settle in, particularly in that third quarter when it looked like it really began to click. Cade Klubnik looked like the quarterback most were expecting to start the season. This overmatched Florida Atlantic team should provide the Klubnik and the Tigers with one more opportunity to take another step forward. How one-sided this one likely depends on how well Clemson protects the ball. Something they haven’t done a very good job of going back to last season. Saturday, those issues disappear. At least for one week.

Clemson 49 FAU 10

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