A bowl bid will hang in the balance for Florida State on Saturday as the Seminoles make the trip to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College. FSU is riding high after a thrilling 31-28 win over rival Miami — its first over the Hurricanes since 2016. At 4-6 (3-4 in ACC play), the Noles will need to win their final two games to become bowl eligible.
With quarterback Phil Jurkovec back in the lineup, Boston College has won back-to-back games after an 0-4 start to conference play. At 6-4 overall (2-4 in conference), the Eagles have already qualified for a bowl game. Boston College is coming off a 41-30 win over Georgia Tech.
Last season marked the first time that Florida State and Boston College did not meet since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005. FSU has won the last two in the series, including a hard-fought 38-31 victory in Chestnut Hill two years ago. Since the Eagles joined the ACC, the road team actually holds an 8-7 advantage in the annual matchup.
Florida State at Boston College
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 12 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Boston College -2
When Florida State Has the Ball
As a matter of fact, it was against Boston College that quarterback Jordan Travis made his FSU debut. In the 2019 victory, Travis carried three times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Travis is coming off of one of the best efforts of his career against Miami in which he passed for a career-high 274 yards and rushed for two touchdowns. Although Travis has had some trouble staying healthy this season, the FSU offense is lightyears better with a healthy Travis. The redshirt sophomore has improved tremendously as a passer, but FSU will look to win this game on the ground.
In addition to Travis being more dangerous with his legs than his arm, Jashaun Corbin and Treshaun Ward are an outstanding duo in the backfield. The two have combined to rush for 1,280 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging a collective 6.5 yards per carry. Corbin leads the way with 815 yards, although he has been held under 100 in each of the last three games after eclipsing that mark in four of the first seven. The FSU offensive line has improved as the season has gone on, but there is no go-to receiver in the passing game. Keyshawn Helton, Ontaria Wilson, and Andrew Parchment are the main trio out wide.
The Boston College defense has quietly been among the ACC's best this season. The Eagles rank in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense and in the top 30 in total defense. Defensive back Josh DeBerry might be the face of the Boston College defense. DeBerry leads the team with 49 total tackles, including eight for a loss, to go with two interceptions and a forced fumble. The defensive front has not been a strength for Boston College this season. The Eagles rank 13th in the ACC in sacks and allow 4.8 yards per rushing attempt.
Defensive end Marcus Valdez leads the team with three sacks. Boston College does get good production from its linebackers. Vinny DePalma, Isaiah Graham-Mobley and Kam Arnold are a solid trio, and all three have at least 45 tackles. Brandon Sebastian leads the team with three interceptions. FSU also will see a familiar face in the secondary, as Boston College safety Jaiden Woodbey is an FSU transfer. Woodbey has had a solid season with 38 tackles, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and one of Boston College's two defensive touchdowns.
When Boston College Has the Ball
Boston College ranks toward the bottom of the ACC in most offensive categories, but like FSU with Travis, it is a different offense with Jurkovec behind center. In just four games this season, the Notre Dame transfer has eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark twice. He's also a decent athlete, accounting for five total touchdowns in last week's win over Georgia Tech, including three rushing. When Jurkovec plays this season, the Eagles are 4-0.
Like FSU, Boston College prefers to try to establish the run. Pat Garwo III has had a solid campaign with 909 yards on 5.3 yards per carry and six rushing touchdowns. Zay Flowers, Jaelen Gill, and CJ Lewis are a solid trio of wide receivers while Trae Barry is a threat at tight end. Although the BC defense hasn't gotten much pressure, the offensive line hasn't allowed much either. Led by Zion Johnson, the Eagles have yielded just 17 sacks. Among ACC schools, only Louisville has surrendered fewer.
Generating pressure is something that FSU can do, and a large portion of that credit goes to Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson. Johnson had a performance for the ages last week against Miami and leads the ACC with 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss. He looks more and more like an All-American. Fabien Lovett, Robert Cooper, and Keir Thomas are the other names to know. FSU has been stout against the run this season, allowing 3.8 yards per carry and 142.6 yards per game.
Amari Gainer headlines the linebacking unit, but DJ Lundy and Kalen DeLoach have also emerged this season. The problem for most of the year has been the secondary. Big plays have been a theme, and although Miami's Tyler Van Dyke passed for more than 300 yards last week, things seem to be improving. Freshman Omarion Cooper has emerged in recent weeks, but the best player back deep is another transfer, safety Jammie Robinson. He leads the team with 65 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
On paper, Florida State and Boston College appear pretty evenly matched. The Seminoles will look to establish the run on Saturday, and if they can, they have a very good chance of leaving Chestnut Hill with a second straight victory. BC will look to be balanced, but Jurkovec's return gives the Eagles a chance to exploit a suspect secondary for Florida State. Whichever team can get the most chunk plays and avoid critical mistakes will likely win on Saturday.
Prediction: Florida State 30, Boston College 27
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— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.