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Dalvin Cook-Deshaun Watson battle highlights FSU-Clemson

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There are headaches ahead for the Seminoles. Take a glance at Clemson, and you can see why they were in last season’s national championship game.

They have running back Wayne Gallman and receiver Mike Williams. They have corner Cordrea Tankersley and linebacker Ben Boulware. They have defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Carlos Watkins.

But most of all, they have quarterback Deshaun Watson. He’s the player FSU needs to stop.

It’s the same on the other sideline. The Seminoles have quarterback Deondre Francois and wide receiver Travis Rudolph. They have defensive ends DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat. They have offensive tackle Roderick Johnson and linebacker Trey Marshall.

But mainly, they have running back Dalvin Cook. He’s job No. 1.

And so it will be that when FSU and Clemson face off Saturday, their stars will face off, too. One national poll this week ranked Watson as the No. 2 favorite for the Heisman. Cook was No. 6. It was that way when they two played last year. Watson threw for 397 yards and rushed for 107 more. Cook rushed for 194.

Oh, other players will matter, too. But those two will be in the starring roles. The defenders of FSU (12th in the polls) will be graded by how well they stop Watson. The Tigers (third in the nation) will be judged by how well they stop Cook.

Watson is 16th in the nation in total offense. Cook is ninth in rushing.

And stopping the opposition? Clemson is 30th against the run. FSU has improved, but it’s still 75th against the pass.

In other words, the game is going to be interesting. So, too, will the game inside the game.

Game time is 8 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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