Florida State hopes to have taken the first step to putting four straight losing seasons behind it. For the first time since 2015, the Seminoles are 3-0 overall and 1-0 in ACC play. Despite a myriad of injuries, FSU found a way to stay undefeated last week with a 35-31 come-from-behind win over Louisville.
This week's opponent has not been so fortunate. Boston College, however, got in the win column for the first time this season last week in a 38-17 victory over FCS Maine. At 1-2, the Eagles will be looking for their first ACC win of the season on Saturday when they head to Doak Campbell Stadium.
FSU has won three straight in the series against Boston College. Last season, the Seminoles raced to a 26-3 lead before holding on for a 26-23 victory in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles have not won in Tallahassee since 2008.
Boston College at Florida State
When Boston College Has the Ball
Boston College will enter Tallahassee ranked 11th in the ACC in scoring offense and 13th in total offense. The Eagles are averaging less than 300 yards per game, but do have a lethal combination in quarterback Phil Jurkovec and wide receiver Zay Flowers. Jurkovec is coming off a big game against Maine in which he passed for 320 yards. Throughout his career, however, he has had trouble staying healthy. He struggled last season against the Seminoles but did account for a pair of touchdowns. As for Flowers, he leads the ACC in catches (22), receiving yards (285), and touchdown receptions (3).
Quiet over his first three seasons at Notre Dame, 6-foot-6 tight end George Takacs has emerged as a real threat for the Eagles. Takacs already has 15 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown this season. Jaden Williams also has emerged as a big playmaker in the passing game. The problem for Boston College has been the offensive line and the ground attack. For the season, the Eagles are averaging less than two yards per carry. Running back Pat Garwo III has been solid for his career but is averaging less than three yards per attempt so far this season. The Eagles also have allowed the most sacks in the ACC at 12.
Boston College has struggled offensively this season, but so had Louisville before facing FSU last week. The Seminoles yielded nearly 500 yards and 31 points to a Cardinals team that averaged just 13.5 points per game over its first two contests. To add insult to injury, the Seminoles are banged up along the defensive front. Defensive tackle Fabien Lovett didn't play last week, and FSU lost leading sack man Jared Verse to injury in the contest. Head coach Mike Norvell has been quiet about injuries this week. FSU was gashed last week on the ground by Louisville. Despite that, FSU still has capable bodies up front such as defensive tackle Robert Cooper and defensive end Derrick McLendon II.
Headlined by Kalen DeLoach and UCF transfer Tatum Bethune, FSU might be as good as it has been at linebacker in a long time. The Seminoles also hope to have Amari Gainer healthy this week. The secondary took a step back last week, but safety Jammie Robinson does just about everything for that unit. Kevin Knowles recorded the first interception of the season for FSU last week to seal the win over Louisville. This defense ranks in the middle of the pack in the ACC in points and yards per game but hasn't yielded a lot through the air.
When Florida State Has the Ball
Injuries are as big of a concern on the offensive side of the ball for Florida State as they are on the other. The big question this week concerns the health of quarterback Jordan Travis. Travis left last week's win against Louisville with an apparent leg injury but has been practicing this week. Travis threw three touchdown passes in last season's win at Boston College. If Travis is unable to go, Tate Rodemaker will likely make his second career start. After struggling early, Rodemaker threw two touchdown passes in the second half to help rally the Seminoles. Either way, expect FSU to rely heavily on its three-headed monster at running back in Treshaun Ward, Trey Benson, and Lawrance Toafili. Ward leads the ACC with 302 rushing yards while averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
Johnny Wilson and Ontaria Wilson have been the top two receivers for the Seminoles this season. Johnny Wilson, an Arizona State transfer, had a career game last week with 149 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. Another player to watch in the passing game is tight end Camren McDonald. McDonald has been a threat on third down this season. As a whole, FSU ranks second in the ACC in total offense but only seventh in scoring. Despite injuries, the offensive line also appears to be much improved.
While Boston College has struggled on offense, the defense has been serviceable. The Eagles rank in the middle of the pack in the ACC in scoring defense and in the top half in total defense. Linebacker Kam Arnold led the team in total tackles last season and is off to a torrid start in 2022. Arnold has a team-high 22 stops and an interception that he returned 49 yards. Vinny DePalma is another reliable, experienced linebacker, while Jaylen Blackwell has made plays early on as a pass rusher. That's one area where the Eagles have excelled this season with eight sacks in three games.
Donovan Ezeiruaku is tied for the team lead with two sacks, along with an ACC-leading two forced fumbles. As was the case last week with Louisville's Jarvis Brownlee, FSU will see a familiar face in the opposing secondary in Eagles safety (and former Nole) Jaiden Woodbey. Senior cornerback Josh DeBerry has been relatively quiet this season but headlines the secondary. Both teams have struggled in the kicking game. Boston College's Connor Lytton is just 2-for-5 on field goals while FSU's Ryan Fitzgerald is 3-for-6 after missing a pair of kicks shorter than 40 yards last week.
It's rare during Norvell's tenure that the Seminoles have been this big of a favorite — especially in an ACC game. The mounting injuries have to be a concern, but if Travis can't go, Rodemaker proved capable of getting the job done. Although the defense struggled in this respect last week, FSU should be able to stop Boston College from gaining too much on the ground. Jurkovec is a solid quarterback and has decent weapons around him, but if the Noles can force the Eagles into obvious passing downs, that could spell a long day for their offensive line.
Prediction: Florida State 31, Boston College 17
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— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.
*Price as of publication.