Florida State and Georgia Tech’s midseason matchup had so much more pizzazz at the beginning of the year. The Justin Thomas vs. Everett Golson talk would be in full swing and both would be leading their teams towards an ACC Championship Game berth.
Funny how things change so quickly in college football.
Georgia Tech is now coming off its fifth loss in a row. Count them, Notre Dame, Duke, North Carolina, Clemson and then Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets have no chance at repeating as ACC Coastal champions and the offense is averaging its lowest total rushing yards per game since Paul Johnson arrived in Atlanta. In case you forgot, Tech is a triple option team.
Meanwhile, Florida State is rolling through the competition with new quarterback Everett Golson who is still learning the offense. To date, Golson has 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions. Dalvin Cook is the best running back in the ACC and top five in the nation. The Seminoles' defense continues to be good at the right moments, as FSU is undefeated at the midway point.
This game is a rematch of last year’s ACC title game but lacks all of the juice it had coming into this year. Georgia Tech could save its season with a big win over Florida State while the Seminoles will try and continue their run to a return trip to the College Football Playoff.
College Football Podcast: Week 8 Preview
Florida State at Georgia Tech
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Florida State -6
Three Things to Watch
1. The Evolution of Everett Golson
Remember when everyone said Everett Golson wouldn’t do well because he is turnover prone and that he would struggle in a new offense? Well Golson has the exact opposite of all of that. Golson has 11 touchdowns to ZERO interceptions in 2015. Zero. This is coming from a guy that threw 14 a year ago. Jimbo Fisher continues to work wonders with quarterbacks. FSU doesn’t need Golson to be flashy, they just need him to play well. And he has done that so far this year. At some point Golson will have to make plays to win a game but he is playing within himself right now and that’s all Jimbo and the Seminoles need.
2. Dalvin Cook’s Heisman Resume
If you don’t think Dalvin Cook is a Heisman frontrunner, you haven’t watched enough football this year. Cook will enter Saturday’s game averaging 159 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and an impressive 8.68 yards per carry average. Even more impressive is the fact that Cook is averaging 4.5 yards per carry after contact, which leads the nation. Cook is explosive and will need to continue that trend if Florida State wants to make the playoffs.
3. Georgia Tech Needs to Show Life
You’ve lost five games in a row and have no shot of making it back to the ACC championship game or the playoffs. So what do you play for? Pride. And the fact that you can still knock a rival from the unbeaten stage on Saturday night. It hasn’t been pretty for Yellow Jacket fans this year but it happens. The Yellow Jackets have only endured one losing season since Johnson took over in 2008 so it’s not like this is a problem right now. But Johnson needs to show that he still has this team and they can still go out and compete.
This game has all the makings for an upset. Florida State is undefeated and on the road. Georgia Tech is scrambling to win a game and their back is against the wall. Georgia Tech has an offense that FSU hasn’t played against this year. But when it comes down to the meat and bones of it all, Florida State is just a far superior team this year. Everett Golson and Dalvin Cook are playing on a high level and Jimbo Fisher continues to show people that he is an elite coach. I think Georgia Tech keeps the game close for a half but then Florida State’s talent and depth will eventually shine through.
Prediction: Florida State 34, Georgia Tech 21
— Written by Justin Nails, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @justinnails.