Over the weekend, FSU fired head coach Willie Taggart, and while they may land a big name to replace him later in the year, the Seminoles have turned to long-time assistant Odell Haggins to salvage the season. FSU comes in with a 4-5 record and still has not won a road game this season.
After a 3-3 start, Boston College has won two of three and sits at 5-4. The Eagles blew out FSU in the last meeting in Chestnut Hill two years ago, 35-3. The Seminoles used a 74-yard touchdown pass from Deondre Francois to Tamorrion Terry to pull out a 22-21 victory over a ranked Boston College team last season.
Florida State at Boston College
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Boston College -2
When Boston College Has the Ball
Since the injury to quarterback Anthony Brown, Boston College finally showed some semblance of a passing game last week as Dennis Grosel passed for a career-high 195 yards and three touchdowns while completing 8-of-10 passes in a 58-27 win over Syracuse. Grosel will be the guy that FSU will try to force to win the game. The Boston College running game, on the other hand, is very strong. The Eagles lead the ACC in rushing with 282.3 yards per game on the ground. That ranks fifth nationally.
250-pound junior AJ Dillon leads the conference and ranks second in the country with 1,286 rushing yards to go with an ACC-best 13 rushing touchdowns. Fellow tailback David Bailey has nearly 700 rushing yards and six touchdown runs on 6.5 yards per carry. Tight end Hunter Long is the team’s leading receiver, while Zay Flowers and Kobay White each have three touchdown grabs. Another area of strength, the Boston College offensive line has allowed just five sacks this season.
Florida State isn’t great defensively, but it has gotten better since the early parts of the season. Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson headlines the defense and has a team-high five sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. Defensive end Janarius Robinson has quietly had a nice redshirt junior season and leads the team with nine tackles for a loss. The Seminoles could be without defensive tackle Cory Durden on Saturday.
The Seminoles have a lot of depth and talent in the secondary, but that hasn’t translated to much on the field. Junior safety Hamsah Nasirildeen is the Seminoles' leading tackler with 63 total stops. Nasirildeen has three forced fumbles this season, a fumble recovery, and an interception. FSU has just five interceptions this year — only NC State has fewer among ACC teams.
When Florida State Has the Ball
The Florida State offense is coming off its worst performance of the season on Saturday, as the Seminoles managed just 203 yards and 10 points while allowing nine sacks. Alex Hornibrook has started the last two games for FSU at quarterback but played poorly in last week’s loss to Miami. Redshirt sophomore James Blackman has started six of the nine games for FSU.
The FSU offensive line has been abysmal, but the skill players have done what they can to mask it. Cam Akers, a junior running back, is the ACC’s leading scorer with 16 total touchdowns. Akers ranks third in the ACC in rushing with 983 yards and has found the end zone in eight of FSU's nine games this season. Tamorrion Terry is the name to know for the largely beat-up FSU receiving corps. Terry leads the Seminoles with 646 receiving yards and six touchdown catches. He scored the game-winner last season against the Eagles.
Defensively, Boston College allows more yards per game than any team in the ACC and more points than everyone except Louisville. Among Power 5 schools, no team yields more yards per game than the Eagles. Despite Boston College’s deficiencies, junior linebacker Max Richardson has been one of the premier defensive players in the ACC. Richardson ranks second in the conference with 87 total tackles and 13.5 tackles for a loss. He also leads the Eagles with 3.5 sacks.
As a team, Boston College has not been able to generate much pressure with just 11 sacks through nine games this season — the fewest in the ACC. The one glimmer of hope for Boston College is that it has been opportunistic. Safety Mike Palmer leads the team with two interceptions. The Eagles rank second in the ACC with a plus-five turnover margin.
Boston College has a better record and is at home, but this is probably a must-win for FSU if the Seminoles are to avoid missing a bowl game for a second straight season. In conference games, Florida State is yielding just 3.6 yards per rush, so if the Seminoles can keep AJ Dillon and the ground game in check, they have to like their chances on Saturday. It’s unclear who will start for FSU at quarterback on Saturday, but James Blackman could be a guy to try to stretch the field against a Boston College team that has allowed nine plays of at least 50 yards.