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Matchup: Florida State (5-3) at Boston College (2-6)
Venue: Alumni Stadium (Chestnut Hill, MA)
Date: Thursday, Nov. 2
Time/TV: 8:00 pm ET - ESPN
Line: Florida State -14.5, o/u 45
On the verge of running my Thursday night record to a very nice 6-3, I choked. Or did I? All I know is it’s bad enough dealing with an inconsistent team like Virginia but when they square off against an equally up and down team like Miami? Forget it - impossible to predict.
Seriously, will you get the Cavaliers team that needed overtime to beat Idaho (34-31) at home, the one who was pounded by North Carolina State (14-28)? Or will you get the one who handled an undefeated Georgia Tech (24-21) team? Similarly, will the Miami team show up who owned Ohio State (24-6)? Or the one who lost to Maryland (24-32) and was trailing after one quarter to Bethune-Cookman (14-45)? Every team has their inconsistent moments but these two are especially hard to predict.
Of course, with the clarity provided by hindsight, Virginia was the easy call. As a two-touchdown underdog, they led from the very beginning and except for a few moments, never really let the Hurricanes get into the game.
With that setback, my Thursday night record falls back to 5-4. Staying in ACC country, let’s check out this week’s game.
Speaking of streaky teams, maybe it runs in the ACC because Florida State has certainly looked quite different at various times this season. After falling to Wake Forest (30-35) on Oct. 8, FSU sunk to 2-3 on the year. That must have been a wake-up call for the team, especially on defense. Since giving up 35 points in consecutive losses to Clemson and the Demon Deacons, the Seminoles allowed only 32 points total in their next three games – all wins - against Duke (41-16), Maryland (41-16) and N.C. State (34-0).
And don’t be surprised if the FSU defense again pitches a gem because their opponent this Thursday night is the Boston College Eagles, a team ranked 101st in the nation in total offense. Granted, FSU will have to travel the 1,100 miles up the coast to Boston – their longest trip of the regular season – and play in pretty chilly weather, but they are still a solid two- touchdown favorite.
Not only is the FSU defense looking to dominate once again but the Seminoles offense is ringing the scoreboard early and often. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s offense has now scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games for the first time since 2002.
As it often does, it all starts at the QB position where EJ Manuel has been quite generous this year. In fact, the FSU signal caller has spread the wealth to the extent that seven players have double-digit receptions so far in 2011. The leader of that group is WR Rodney Smith (27 catches, 468 yards) but not far behind is freshman WR Rashad Greene and his team leading six TD receptions. The good news for FSU fans is that Greene, who has missed the past three games with an ankle injury, will likely return this Thursday (confirm status).
It’s not all passing for FSU as Manuel can also rely on a potent ground game led by senior RB Jermaine Thomas, who has over 2,000 career rushing yards for the garnet and gold. It all adds up to a tremendous challenge for a Boston College defense which ranks 11th in the ACC in total defense (421 yards per game) and 7th in scoring defense (25 points per game). To have any chance to contain the Seminoles, the Eagles will have to get a tremendous individual effort from LB Luke Kuechly, the clear team leader who averages 16.2 tackles per game and leads all FBS players with 130 tackles.
However, even a monster game by Kuechly might not be enough against an FSU team which appears to be peaking after three consecutive ACC wins by a combined margin of 116-32. FSU will be looking to become bowl eligible for the 30th consecutive season with a win over the Eagles, which would extend the nation’s longest active streak of bowl appearances.
The Eagles can take some solace in the fact that he Seminoles are 2-3 in their last 5 Thursday night games (all on the road vs. ACC opponents) and 1-2 in Thursday games on a short week.
Thursday’s Betting Notes
FSU is 4-4 against the spread
On the road, the Seminoles have gone 1-2 both SU and ATS
As a double-digit favorite, FSU is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS.
The ‘over’ has gone 2-1 on the road
Boston College is coming off a three-game road trip (1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS)
At home, the Eagles are 1-3 SU both SU and ATS with the lone win coming against 1-AA Massachusetts (45-17)
BC has watched the ‘under’ go 6-1-1
The Eagles are 3-3 SU and 4-2 ATS in their last six encounters with FSU. The largest outcome during this stretch was 11 points (28-17) in 2005.