Tallahassee, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Sporting the nation’s longest win
streak, the second-ranked Florida State Seminoles continue their quest for
perfection, as they take on the Virginia Cavaliers in an ACC showdown at Doak
Campbell Stadium on Saturday evening.
Jimbo Fisher’s squad ran its win streak to 24 straight games (school record)
with last weekend’s 42-31 victory at Louisville. The defending national
champions spotted the Cardinals 21 points before coming storming back to earn
the win, the team’s eighth in as many games this season. With a win over the
Cavs, FSU will become the 25th team in college football history to win 25
Mike London’s squad would love to bring and halt to the FSU freight train. In
early October, Virginia was sitting at a strong 4-2, but the team has dropped
three straight games since then, including last weekend’s 35-10 loss at
Georgia Tech. The loss to the Yellow Jackets dropped Virginia to just 2-3 in
London knows the task at hand in Tallahassee.
“They have athletes at a lot of places,” said London. “Their recruiting
classes year in, year out have always been at the top levels, and so we’re
talking about the national champions. We’re talking about a Heisman Trophy
winner. We’re talking about a very good football team that has found ways to
win games, even in the end of fourth quarters.
“They’re good, and everybody knows when you go down there in that venue that
you have to be able and ready to play.”
Florida State holds a 14-3 series advantage with Virginia, including an 8-1
record in games played in Tallahassee. That one road victory came in 2011,
with Virginia posting a 14-13 victory.
The Cavaliers aren’t the most explosive offensive squad around, but the team
has found a way to average nearly 400 yards of total offense per game (397.6).
Sophomore quarterbacks Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns have shared the workload
under center. Lambert has completed 60.4 percent of his throws, for 1,055
yards and five TDs, while Johns is good on 551 percent of his passes, for
1,044 yards and eight TDs.
Taquan Mizzell (31 rec, 176 yds) and Canaan Severin (30 rec, 385 yds, 3 TDs)
are the top options in the passing game.
The team’s top offensive weapon though is senior tailback Kevin Parks, who has
rushed for 626 yards and four TDs, while also amassing 24 receptions, for 139
yards and two more scores.
Virginia has made plenty of big plays on the defensive side of the football
this year, including forcing 21 turnovers in the first nine outings. Freshman
Quin Blanding (89 tackles, 2 INTs) and senior All-American Anthony Harris (81
tackles, 2 INTs) headline the play in the secondary. Senior linebacker Henry
Coley (61 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks) and junior end Eli Harold (47 tackles,
13.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks) are extremely disruptive up the field.
Once again, the Seminoles looked vulnerable on the field and once again,
Jameis Winston and company found a way to get the job done, this time
overcoming a three touchdown deficit to earn a win at Louisville.
Winston passed for 401 yards and three touchdowns in the victory although he
was guilty of three interceptions. Not quite on the pace that won him the
Heisman last season, Winston has still played well this year, completing 67.2
percent of his passes, for 2,279 yards and 16 TDs, against nine INTs.
It has certainly helped to have FSU’s all-time leading receiver on the outside
in 2014 in the form of senior Rashad Greene, who has team-highs with 58
catches, for 853 yards and four TDs.
The ground game has played second-fiddle to the passing attack this season for
FSU, although Karlos Williams (450 yards, 4.6 ypc, 7 TDs) is a dangerous back
when he does get his touches.
The Seminoles are also not on pace with last year’s defensive numbers. This
yea’s unit has posted modest stats at best, allowing just under 400 yards of
offense per game to the opposition (388.6). Despite playmakers at each level,
big plays have not come in bunches for the Seminoles with just 12 sacks and 15
takeaways through eight games.
Linebackers Reggie Northrup (team-high 67 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR) and
Terrance Smith (61 tackles, 2 FF) lead the way in the middle of the defense.
Although, Smith missed the Louisville game with a strained pectoral muscle.
Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey (52 tackles, 1 INT) and P.J. Williams (32 tackles, 1
INT) headline the play in the secondary, while Eddie Goldman (27 tackles, 7.5
TFL, 4.0 sacks) and Mario Edwards Jr. (22 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) are the
players to watch up front.
P.J. Williams addressed the notion that teams are gunning for the Seminoles
“We know we’re the team that everybody hates,” Williams said. “We like the
fact that everybody wants us to lose. We like the fact that every team is
going to come with their A-game.
“So we’re just going to fight hard and work hard to make sure that we win.”