GAME NOTES: The struggling Boston College Eagles are this week's opponent for the surging 16th-ranked Florida State Seminoles, as the ACC opponents will collide in Tallahassee.
Boston College opened the season with back-to-back wins over weak non- conference opponents, but the team has suffered three consecutive double-digit losses since that point. Last weekend, the Eagles were simply no match for North Carolina State, falling by a 44-17 final in that tilt.
As for Florida State, it is undoubtedly still flying high after crushing Miami-Florida on the road by a 45-17 final last weekend. The Seminoles are 5-1 overall and have posted four consecutive victories since the lone loss to Oklahoma.
"We wanted to stay aggressive on offense and defense and that's the mentality that we maintained all game long," said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher after the Miami win.
The all-time series between Florida State and Boston College is tied at 4-4, and last season's matchup between these squads was won by the Eagles, 28-21.
Boston College registered only 12 first downs against NC State en route to 272 yards of total offense. Just 99 rushing yards were posted on 29 attempts at a clip of 3.4 yards per carry. As for the passing game, both Dave Shinskie and Mike Marscovetra saw time under center, and neither was particularly impressive. Shinskie struggled mightily, completing just 7-of-24 attempts for 89 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Alex Amidon paced the receivers with 102 yards on just three catches.
"I think anytime something negative happens it affects you in a certain way," said Boston College coach Frank Spaziani when asked to comment on Shinskie's confidence. "We're human beings."
The Eagles certainly have room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, but while they did allow 44 points to NC State last week, the defense didn't play nearly as poorly as that output indicates. Boston College only yielded 2.7 yards per rushing attempt and 8.5 yards per pass completion. NC State ran 84 offensive plays, a high total.
Through five outings, Boston College is only generating 18.8 ppg and 301.6 total ypg. The ground attack has been nonexistent, generating a mere 89.8 ypg at a clip of 2.9 yards per attempt. The Eagles are making good on just 28 percent of their third down conversion attempts, and the instability at the quarterback position has been the root of many offensive problems.
Opponents are posting 25.4 ppg against the Eagles, who are allowing 333.2 total ypg. The fact that only 2.6 yards per rushing attempt and 9.5 yards per pass completion have been notched against Boston College suggests that the defense has done all it can do to keep things close and offset the turnovers and shaky play of Shinskie and the offense.
Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder only attempted 21 passes against Miami, completing 12 for 173 yards and two touchdowns. It was the Seminole ground attack that carried the offense on that night, as Fisher's team rushed for 298 yards and four touchdowns at a clip of 7.3 yards per carry. Chris Thompson led the charge with 158 yards and a score on 14 carries, while Jermaine Thomas ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Florida State played well against the pass in the win over Miami, holding the 'Canes to 20-of-49 efficiency through the air. The run defense struggled at times, but the most important stat of all was 17, the number of points that FSU surrendered in the road rivalry game.
The Seminoles are racking up 36.7 ppg this season while posting 439.5 total ypg. They have been able to achieve tremendous balance with 223.5 ypg on the ground and 216.0 ypg through the air. There have been 27 touchdowns registered by the offense, 15 of which have come on the ground. Ponder has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,017 yards and 10 scores with four interceptions, and he relies on many receivers to get the job done.
While the offense garners most of the headlines, as is the case with many good teams, it is the FSU defense that deserves top praise for its performance to date. The Seminoles are only allowing 15.7 ppg and 315.2 total ypg, and they have been particularly tough against the run, limiting foes to 93.8 ypg at a clip of 2.6 yards per carry. Kendall Smith leads FSU with 37 total tackles, while Brandon Jenkins recorded five sacks in the tilt.
There is no doubt that FSU is a better team than Boston College and will win this weekend's game easily. The Eagles are inept offensively and will be fortunate to reach double figures in points on Saturday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 35, Boston College 9