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The Predictions: Deshaun Watson will lead Clemson past FSU

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For two weeks, the FSU defense has been solid.

For two weeks, opponents have found the game as difficult as ever.

Ah, but if you are an FSU fan, you remember. You remember quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Chad Kelly and Quinton Flowers and Mitch Trubisky. You remember teams constantly kicking extra points.

And now comes Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Yikes.

Watson, one of the leading contenders for the Heisman Trophy, has guided Clemson to a 7-0 record and the No. 3 ranking in the country. FSU, No. 12, will counter with Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francoise.

Two years ago, Watson threw for 266 yards against the Seminoles in a loss. Last year, he threw for 297 yards and ran for 107.

Clemson, however, has struggled at times this year. They had a hard time beating Auburn, Troy, Louisville, and N.C. State. So a trip to Tallahassee doesn’t seem as if it will be a cakewalk.

Look for FSU to stay close for three quarters. In the end, however, the defense that gave up 177 points in the team’s first five games is still vulnerable.

Prediction: Clemson 28, FSU 17

Florida vs. Georgia

Once upon a time, Florida’s Jim McElwain and Georgia’s Kirby Smart used to coach together under Nick Saban. These days, they’re both fighting for the SEC East title.

So far, Georgia’s move to hire Smart wasn’t, well, intelligent. The Bulldogs still have impressive pieces.

Florida’s defense, however, should be the best unit on the field again Saturday, especially if linebacker Jarrad Davis can play. Florida’s offense isn’t anything to brag about. Still, the Gators are 5-1 and the Bulldogs have lost three out of four, including last week’s game against Vanderbilt.

Prediction: Florida 20, Georgia 16

Miami at Notre Dame

The Hurricanes are on a three-game losing streak and have been beaten up across the defensive line.

Both teams believe this season could be a lot better. Notre Dame lost by three to Texas, by eight to Michigan State, by three to Duke and by seven to both N.C. State and Stanford. Miami lost by one to FSU.

At home, Notre Dame should have just enough to win.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Miami 24

Navy at USF

When they play tonight, the Bulls will be trying to regain the momentum they lost against Temple last week.

USF still can move the ball with Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack. But Navy never seems to beat itself, which is one reason the Midshipmen are ranked No. 22 in the country. There are still large questions about a USF defense that gives up too many points.

Prediction: Navy 27, USF 26

UCF at Houston

The Knights are growing as a team, but they aren’t quite ready for a team as explosive as Houston. Look for the Cougers to dominate early.

Prediction: Houston 37, UCF 20

Western Kentucky vs. FAU

The Hilltoppers (5-3) won easily a week ago when quarterback Mike White hit 28 of 32 passes for 378 yards. The last time these two teams played, Western led only 14-13 at the half but then pulled away.

Prediction: Western Kentucky 35, FAU 21

Middle Tennessee at FIU

The Panthers can score, but it’s doubtful they can keep up with Middle Tennessee. Last week, the Blue Raiders upset SEC opponent Missouri as Brent Stockstill threw for 280 yards.

FIU, meanwhile, lost to Louisiana Tech.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee 34, FIU 13

The Pros

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Running back Jay Ajayi has been impressive with back-to-back 200-yard games, something only four players in NFL history have done. But the going will be tougher against the Jets, who struggle on offense but have impressive pieces on defense.

Look for quarterback Ryan Tannehill to be the difference, one way or another.

Prediction: New York Jets 20, Miami Dolphins 17

Oakland Raiders at Tampa Bay Bucs

The Bucs have won two straight road games. With three home games in a row, it’s time the team established a home field advantage. That’s easier said than done, however. The Raiders have impressive weaponry on both sides of the ball.

Prediction: Raiders 27, Bucs 23

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 garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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