The Noles defense can play with anyone, but with the young QB James Blackman under center the offense can't seem to get in going on a consistent basis and FSU goes down 31-14.
Travis Etienne rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, including a 1-yard burst with 3:05 left.
The Tigers (9-1, 7-1, No. 4 CFP) and their dominant defense looked to have this one wrapped up when they opened a 17-0 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter. But the Seminoles rallied on Jacques Patrick's 9-yard scoring run and a double flea-flicker for a 60-yard TD catch by tight end Ryan Izzo.
Florida State then recovered Kelly Bryant's fumble on the Clemson 40 with 6:46 to go, putting the Seminoles in position to spoil the Tigers' College Football Playoff hopes. But safety Van Smith intercepted James Blackman's pass over the middle on the next play, setting up the TD drive that secured the win for the defending national champions.
Etienne had a 25-yard run to the FSU 5 and took it in two plays later as the chilly Death Valley crowd erupted in celebration of a chance for a third straight ACC title in Charlotte in three weeks.
Cornerback Trayvon Mullen knocked away Blackman's fourth-down pass with 2:13 left to end the Seminoles' comeback hopes.
It's the fifth time in coach Dabo Swinney's nine full seasons that he has taken the Tigers to the conference title game. Clemson will face No. 7 Miami, which won the Coastal Division with Virginia's 38-17 loss to Louisville on Saturday.
For Florida State (3-6, 3-5), it marked its first losing ACC record since 2006. And the Seminoles' landmark streak of 35 straight bowl games is in jeopardy, too - they have three games left against Delaware State, rival Florida and Louisiana-Monroe.
Bryant finished with 151 yards passing. He also rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown. Adam Choice had a 10-yard TD run with 35 seconds left for Clemson's final score.
Tallahassee, Florida the Seminoles continue their ACC dominance and destroy the Syracuse Orange 59-3. Florida State with Bobby Bowden and Charlie Ward back in attendence this week the Noles did not dissappoint.
The Seminoles are clicking on all cylinders right now and if they don't get caught up looking past the remaining games on schedule, they are poised for a National Championship berth.
Jameis Winston and the Florida State offense has received a ton of hype and praise -- What about the defense? I believe for the Seminoles to make it to and win a BCS National Championship it will be on the back of the defense.
Jameis Winston and Florida State didn't take long before the Tomahawk Chop consumed Death Valley, making a statement as one of the top teams in the nation. The Seminoles' remarkable redshirt freshman threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns and No. 5 Florida State crushed No. 3 Clemson 51-14 Saturday night.
FSU wideout Rahad Greene also played big for the Seminoles, with 8 receptions for 146 yards and two TD's. Clemson was clearly out classed by Greene's speed as he ran away from the the Tiger DB's 72 yards for his first touchdown.
Florida State's defense also showed it's dominance as the forced Clemson into four turnovers. Lamarcus Joyner forced Clemson turnover No. 2, coming free on a backside blitz and knocking the ball free from Boyd. Edwards scooped and scored -- Joyner's interception of Boyd in Florida State territory turned it into another score.
The Seminoles should received plenty of 1st place votes in the BCS poll which comes out this week.