Another week in college football and another ESPN Thursday night game featuring ACC programs. In this week’s episode, the Florida State Seminoles travel to Blacksburg, Va. to face the Virginia Tech Hokies. Florida State has an 8-1 record this season and has bounced back from a road loss to N.C. State in September. The Hokies have an uncharacteristic 4-5 record for the season, but good news for Thurdsay’s tilt? All four wins are at Lane Stadium, where Virginia Tech is 4-0.
Florida State is scoring 45 points per game this season behind quarterback EJ Manuel. Manuel has completed 70 percent of his passes for 2315 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Eight different receivers have caught Manuel touchdown passes, and none of his targets have caught more than 28 passes. Running backs James Wilder Jr., Chris Thompson and Devonta Freeman have combined for 218 carries, 1517 yards and 18 touchdowns, though the trio became a duo last month when Thompson was lost for the season to injury.
When the backfield isn’t going for touchdown, place kicker Dustin Hopkins has been successful on 18 out of 22 field goal attempts.
Complementing the high scoring offense is one of the nation’s best defenses. FSU is allowing just 12 points per game, third fewest in college football. CBS Sports projects starting defensive Seminoles going in next spring’s NFL Draft, with defensive end Bjoern Werner heading the group.
Virginia Tech’s offensive line needs to open up holes for the run game, and protect quarterback Logan Thomas, the key to the success of the Hokies. Once considered a Heisman candidate, Thomas has completed 53 percent of his passes for 2109 yards, thirteen touchdowns and twelve interceptions, and run for another 643 yards and six touchdowns. Running backs J.C Coleman and Michael Holmes anchor the running game and have accumulated 643 yards and six touchdowns as a tandem, far off the production the ground game got last season from David Wilson. Receivers Marcus Davis and Corey Fuller are the backbone of the passing game with 65 receptions, 1233 yards and eight touchdowns combined.
The Hokies defense has been a complete disappointment, allowing opponents 25 points per contest, No. 52 nationally and well below the lofty standards coordinator Bud Foster has set for this program. Virginia Tech has struggled particularly stopping the rush, so expected Jimbo Fisher’s two-man backfield of Freeman and Wilder to pound away with plenty of carries.
Virginia Tech has been solid at home with lively crowds and “Enter Sandman” rocking, but the Hokies have not faced a team the caliber of Florida State. Logan Thomas will have a good enough game to keep Virginia Tech respectable, but look for Florida State to dominate the underachieving Hokies on national television in an attempt to garner some national BCS recognition on the way to the ACC Championship game.
Final Score: Florida State 35, Virginia Tech 19