7:30 PM EST – ESPN2 – Line: Florida State -21, Over/Under: 49
A pair of division foes traveling in very different directions clash tonight at Doak Campbell Stadium, as the eighteenth-ranked Florida State Seminoles host the struggling Boston College Eagles. At this point of the season, Boston College (4-5, 1-5 in ACC) likely rues the day their schedule shifted to conference play, for they have suffered a miserable run of late in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Steve Addazio’s charges began the season a modest 3-2, with victories over non-conference opponents such as Massachusetts (26-7), Wagner (42-10), and Buffalo (35-3), but just about every time they have had the misfortune of encountering one of their neighbors in the ACC, they’ve ended up on the wrong side of a beating. Granted, this should hardly come as a shocker; after all, the combined record of the four teams they’ve defeated, including conference opponent North Carolina State is a mediocre 12-25 (.324). Losers of three out of their last four outings, the Eagles were embarrassed by Louisville last Saturday, getting absolutely thumped in a 52-7 debacle. This game was over after the First Quarter, folks, as the visiting Cardinals started the day scoring an unanswered twenty-one points in the first fifteen minutes of action. If not for a 39-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Towles to Tyler Rouse in the Third Stanza, this meeting would have actually gotten uglier. Despite managing to force three turnovers, BC’s defense was no match for Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson and Co., as the electrifying Quarterback accounted for all but ninety-nine of his team’s 515 total yards of offense, along with all SEVEN of their touchdowns. With that said, Louisville is fully capable of doing that to most opponents they face (including Florida State), but in all honesty that was just a bad matchup for Addazio’s outfit. The Seminoles on the other hand, represent a completely different challenge for this team, which could lend towards a much closer contest. When they met in Chestnut Hill a year ago, the hosts confounded FSU’s offense, relegating them to just fourteen points on 217 total yards, without forcing any turnovers. The problem though, which has once again been the case this season, is that the offense did virtually nothing of consequence; on that day, the Eagles scored precisely ZERO points, with that particular side of the ball contributing to their opponent’s success, losing a key fumble in the Fourth Quarter which was returned for a touchdown to seal the 14-point shutout loss. Addazio tried his hand with three different Quarterbacks, with none proving effective, as the triumvirate of Darius Wade, Troy Flutie, and Jeff Smith combined to complete a miserable 5-of-15 passes for fifty-six yards and an interception. Yeesh… For fans in the Northeastern part of the country, there is little consolation as the Offense is pretty bad once again, averaging just 19.4 points (122nd Overall) on 312.1 total yards per game. That’s 122nd out of 128 teams, folks. The aforementioned Towles, a Transfer from Kentucky, has done little to spark this unit, completing 51.0% of his attempts for 1,293 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions, despite serving as the team’s third-leading rusher with 250 yards and four scores. It’s sad, because this group’s familiar struggles continues to waste what has generally been a very sound defensive unit; Boston College has relinquished 26.2 points (61st Overall) on a respectable 322.1 total yards. Defensive Lineman Harold Landry has been a force in the trenches, logging nine sacks and eleven tackles for loss, while Hybrid Linebacker Matt Milano patrols the middle of the field, with five sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, a deflected pass and a fumble recovery. Despite being on the field A LOT, these guys are very well-coached and have proven to throw a lot of different looks at their opponents, which should be key tonight as they face a talented (yet inexperienced) True Freshman in the form of Seminoles Quarterback, Deondre Francois.
Meanwhile, while their opponent continues to fade down the stretch, Florida State (6-3,3-3 in ACC) has apparently placed their early struggles in the proverbial rearview mirror, winning three out of their last four contests. Jimbo Fisher’s charges rebounded admirably after coming up short in their epic 37-34 loss to Second-Ranked Clemson two weeks ago, surviving upset-minded North Carolina State in a tightly-contested 24-20 victory on the road. The Seminoles had to fight their way back throughout the majority of the affair, trailing 20-10 at one point late in the Third Quarter, but nonetheless went on to score the final fourteen points en route to the win. The aforementioned Francois was HUGE that day, completing 22-of-39 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown, as the visitors had to abandon the run to get back into the game. The Frosh was sacked four times, and hit numerous others, but continued to show maturity by standing in the pocket and making play after play. Wideout Nygwan Murray played the role of benefactor, reeling in nine receptions for a game-high 153 yards, while fellow Receiver Travis Rudolph caught the game-winning 19-yard touchdown toss with little over three minutes left in the contest. Defensively, the ‘Noles struggled mightily to slow down the Wolfpack, yielding 469 total yards, including 165 rushing yards on a staggering forty-one carries, and another 304 yards through the air. In fact, the home side totaled a whopping thirty-one First Downs (compared to 20 for FSU). Surprisingly, this has been an ongoing issue in Tallahassee, as growing pains were to be expected on the offensive side of the ball, not the defensive end. The Seminoles have allowed 28.8 points (75th Overall) on 411.1 total yards, including 257.3 via the pass and another 153.8 via the rush, the latter coming on a disappointing 4.3 yards per carry. Injuries have begun to take a serious toll on this unit, as seven players are listed on the Injury Report this week, with the latest being star Defensive Back Derwin James (11 Tackles, 1 INT) being pronounced out for the season after undergoing surgery for a meniscus tear in his left knee. With that said, their saving grace has been takeaways, as Florida State has accumulated eighteen turnovers, helping to mitigate the loads of yardage they’ve permitted. This should be noted tonight, as Boston College has been less-than cautious with the football, committing seventeen turnovers this season. However, the biggest storyline here is a potentially history-making one, as Tailback Dalvin Cook (1,134 yards, 12 TD) has a shot of breaking the all-time school record for career rushing yards. Through three terms in Tallahassee, the Junior has racked up a stellar 3,833 rushing yards, only 127 yards behind Seminoles’ Great Warrick Dunn (3,960 yards), who tore up the grass at Doak Campbell twenty years ago. But let’s not got carried away, folks, for breaking that record tonight is by no means a given, particularly against the Eagles’ staunch defensive front; in two career meetings, Cook has struggled against BC, averaging just 65.0 yards on 4.5 yards per carry, while failing to reach the End Zone in either encounter.
Predicted Outcome: Florida State 27, Boston College 13