18 November 2011
As the Seminoles continue to ride their five game winning streak, fresh off an ugly victory against the Miami Hurricanes last weekend, they gear up for a game that could be kind of weird emotionally. For the Noles, Saturday's UVA matchup is homecoming and senior night combined with a 7:30 pm kickoff. Those are typically all the makings for an emotionally charged game, at least under normal circumstances. What's unique about this scenario is that this UVA game is sandwiched between two of Florida State's most emotional games of the year--the in-state rivalries of UM and UF. The biggest storyline here for the Seminoles will be their mental intensity and focus. How much will they have and how much will it impact the outcome of the game?
Harry Homer says: My Noles just keep on rolling. I won't say I told you so, because you obviously know I did. This is a good football team and they proved it by beating the rival Canes. This week, the challenge is different but I expect the outcome to be the same with an added exclamation point. Virginia is a decent football team, but they can't matchup with FSU across the board on both sides of the ball. There's a reason this game opened up at -18 for FSU in Vegas and I expect the Noles to show it on Saturday.
EJ Manuel continues to play efficient football, throwing for 74% completion percentage over the past four games. In fact, with the exception of coming into a Wake Forest game cold and pressed to make plays, Manuel has yet to play in a game where he's completed less than 64% of his passes this season. He's been solid and I expect that continue through the weekend against a UVA team that likes to go man to man pretty often. As for the defense, they'll be facing a UVA team that wants to run the football a lot and lacks significant playmakers at the receiver position. Florida State has been outstanding against the run and despite UVA having a couple of very solid backs, that too should continue through the weekend. To give you an idea of how badass this team is against the rush, check this out: Florida State is one of three teams to hold opponents to 850 yards or less on the ground through 10 games in 2011. The other two are LSU and Alabama. If FSU takes away Virginia's ability to run and can jump out to a lead early, this game could get ugly for the visiting team in a real hurry.
In my humble homer opinion, this game won't be close and FSU will make one more statement before putting a big exclamation point on the end of this regular season next week in Gainesville. FSU 45, UVA 13.
Pete Pessimist says: Goodness gracious, there's clearly some holiday punch slipped into Harry's kool-aid this week! Listen, I'm happy the Noles have been playing well and on a roll, but I'm just a little gun shy on this UVA team. They've played well throughout most of the year and have a 7-3 record just like us. They beat GT, they beat Miami and neither of those teams are easy wins. The last thing I would want to see is an emotional letdown between these two rivalry games, but I can't pretend it isn't a possibility.
Aside from the sheer mental aspect of things, Virginia has a solid football team. They are good on both lines. In fact, one could argue that their offensive line is the best in the ACC. Don't get me wrong here, you don't completely neutralize the FSU defensive line, but Miami proved last week that they can be slowed down and UVA's group may be better. I do agree that making UVA one dimensional is a way for FSU to make things ugly, but I fear a lethargic start on offense may prevent that from being possible. I'm expecting a rather close contest that Florida State is able to pull out in the end. FSU 27, UVA 17.
Randy Realist says: This game is indeed a bit odd when you take a look at where both teams are in their seasons. UVA still controls their destiny and could work their way into the ACC Championship game with a win against FSU and another against Virginia Tech next week. While not many people believe they could pull off one, let alone two wins in the next two weeks, this is a well coached team with confidence and momentum heading into Saturday's game.
On the flipside, Florida State comes in on a roll of their own, having won five straight including a win against the rival Canes. So how does FSU respond? Do they run out of gas or do they stay hot? That will be the question. It becomes complicated by the fact that the Florida Gators or just over the horizon. Talent wise, Florida State outmatches UVA everywhere with the exception of offensive line. UVA will play hungry and are well coached, which means they may not make many unforced mistakes. Florida State will have to bring its A game in order to put this contest away. I expect a bit of a scare early with FSU ultimately pulling away in the second half. FSU 35, UVA 21.
Key Unit Matchups
FSU DL vs. UVA OL: As far as the ACC goes, this is a best on best matchup. The conference's two best lines go to battle in a game that could have championship implications. Ironically, it's the big nasties of FSU that will be playing the role of the spoilers.
FSU Receivers vs. UVA Secondary: Florida State's receiving corps is deep and talented and UVA puts themselves in a lot of man coverage situations. This has left them vulnerable to the occasional big play, which is something the Noles have capitalized on all year long. Don't be surprised to see Virginia switch things up a bit to ensure this doesn't happen tomorrow. If they aren't careful, they could certainly get burned.
Kickoff: 7:30 pm
Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Capacity: 83,000
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