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Syracuse Orange vs. Florida State Seminoles Preview and Prediction

Jimbo Fisher

Jimbo Fisher

And that is why you want to put inferior teams away when you can. After a season and a half of narrowly escaping with victory time and again, Florida State allowed Georgia Tech to stay in the game until the very end. This time, the breaks did not go the way of the Seminoles with the Yellow Jackets emerging victorious 22-16 by returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown as time expired.

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It was FSU’s first conference loss since Oct. 6, 2012 when the third-ranked Seminoles blew a 16-0 lead and lost 17-16 atNC State. Those Seminoles responded by thumpingBoston College 51-7 a week later. This time, Syracuse comes to Tallahassee and the 'Noles will be without Heisman Trophy candidate Dalvin Cook, who injured his ankle last Saturday.

The Orange suffered heartbreak of their own on Saturday. After leading Pittsburgh for a good portion of the day, Syracuse saw a last-second Panthers field goal take them down 23-20.

Syracuse has only beaten Florida State once in eight tries and that was back in 1966.

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Syracuse at Florida State

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Florida State -20

Three Things to Watch

1. Surviving Without Dalvin Cook
Perhaps no team is as dependent upon one player as Florida State is on Cook. The sophomore from Miami has accounted for 41 percent of the Seminoles' total offense. As a comparison, Leonard Fournette is responsible for 43 percent of LSU’s offense, but Cook missed virtually all of the Wake Forest game. FSU has struggled finding options outside of Cook and with Mario Pender also out with an injury, the running back load falls on Jonathan Vickers and freshman Jacques Patrick. The duo has combined for 59 yards rushing this season. Florida State will have to rely more on quarterback Everett Golson throwing the ball to Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield. Needless to say, Cook is a huge loss.

2. Florida State's Offensive Line

If more is asked of Golson, the offensive line is going to have to elevate its play. The guys up front were handled quite well by Georgia Tech’s defensive line, struggled to open running lanes, and Golson was under a lot of pressure for much of the evening. Syracuse has a better run defense than pass defense, but the Orange can get after the quarterback a bit. So while opportunities may be available through the air, Golson is going to have to have time to find his receivers. And the young backs will need bigger holes than Cook.

3. Eric Dungey

When Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt injured his Achilles tendon in the season opener, it looked like Cuse was in big trouble. After Hunt broke his fibula last year, a limited Orange offense became even weaker, scoring just 47 points in their last five games. But Dungey, a true freshman from Lake Oswego, Ore,  has breathed new life into the Syracuse attack, leading the team to more than 30 points in four of his six starts. Dungey has been efficient, completing nearly 65 percent of his throws with an 11:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and he is the team’s second-leading rusher with 260 yards. Florida State knows that Dungey is Syracuse’s most dangerous threat.

Final Analysis

Florida State finally lost a regular season game. It’s been a long, long time since that occurred. The seniors on this team were freshmen at the time, so knowing how to rebound from a defeat is not something that this team has much experience in doing. Now they have to deal with the loss of their best player as well. Even with Cook, Florida State hasn’t been dominant this season. But Syracuse isn’t as talented as FSU. The Seminoles beat Wake Forest without Cook for much of the game. They will get by this week as well.

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Prediction: Florida State 24, Syracuse 17

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.