FSU Football Matchup Analysis & Prediction: 'Noles vs Boston College
The Florida State football team, fresh off a thrilling, last-minute takedown of rival Miami this past Saturday, will travel to battle the Boston College Eagles this week.
The Seminoles enjoyed easily their best start to a game this season vs. UM, jumping out to 17-0 lead in the first half. After the Hurricanes orchestrated a second-half comeback to take a 28-20 lead, FSU responded with a clutch final drive, capped off by a game-winning Jordan Travis quarterback sneak with under a minute to play.
FSU stands at 4-6 and suddenly has renewed bowl hopes heading into its tilt against Boston College (6-4) at noon ET on the ACC Network. FSU and BC didn’t square off during last season’s shortened schedule, but the ’Noles came out on top during their previous meeting. Interim head coach Odell Haggins led Florida State to a 38-31 road victory that helped propel the 2019 squad to a bowl berth.
Now in 2021, Boston College’s program is in a better place since the school hired former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley. Hafley, who also brings extensive NFL experience, led the Eagles to a 4-0 out-of-conference start. In its ACC opener, BC nearly upset Clemson but fell, 19-13. The close loss started off a four-game skid and an 0-4 start to ACC play. The Eagles then righted the ship the past two weeks with solid wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, winning each by multiple scores.
Boston College is well-balanced when healthy offensively at quarterback, which the Eagles should be this week. But for the season, BC has the ACC’s No. 3 scoring defense (19.9 points per game) and just the No. 11 scoring offense (26.3).
Here's our in-depth look at the positional matchups for both sides of the football and special teams, plus staff predictions for the Seminoles' 11th game of the season.
After starting this season with four straight losses, FSU saw winning results once the 'Noles tweaked their offense and streamlined their passing game for quarterback Jordan Travis to feature a more run-based attack. Over a four-game stretch, Travis completed 67 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and just one interception and ran the ball for over 300 total yards. FSU went 3-1 in that run, with the lone loss coming at Clemson in a close game.
Travis returned against rival Miami following a one-week absence and enjoyed arguably his best outing so far as a ’Nole: 18-for-26 passing for 274 yards to go along with 62 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He recorded several indelible highlight plays on the final game-winning drive alone.
UCF transfer McKenzie Milton has started four games this season and will be Travis' top backup. Now that reserve redshirt freshman Chubba Purdy has entered the transfer portal, that leaves FSU with just three scholarship quarterbacks on its roster: Travis, Milton and 2020 signee Tate Rodemaker.
At wideout, FSU has stuck with four main options so far this season, and three of the four have several years of experience starting at the collegiate level. Junior Ontaria “Pokey” Wilson has contributed 272 yards and three scores this season. While his playing time has been sporadic, Kansas transfer Andrew Parchment brings plenty of talent, with a team-leading 296 receiving yards and three touchdowns so far in 2021. He caught a huge fourth-down pass against Miami to set up the winning score. Then there’s true freshman Malik McClain, who has 14 grabs this year and flashes major potential for the future. The fourth, junior Keyshawn Helton, was out due to injury versus Miami but he’s played in 35 career games for FSU. For added depth, second-year wideouts Kentron Poitier, Darion Williamson, and redshirt sophomore Jordan Young (15 snaps in a reserve role last week against the ’Canes) round out the two-deep. Running back/receiver Ja'Khi Douglas also was a major weapon in the Miami game.
Florida State’s starter at tight end, Camm McDonald, continues to improve and leads the team with 18 catches this season. Co-starter Jordan Wilson has chipped in 10 grabs of his own, and third-teamer Preston Daniel is utilized mainly as a blocker. FSU’s passing game could be trending upward as Travis continues to gain confidence.
Boston College will test the ’Noles big-time with an elite secondary. The Eagles rank No. 3 in the country, allowing just 159 yards per game through the air and just eight passing touchdowns all season. Those figures easily top the ACC by a wide margin. They’ve also picked off nine passes this year as a team. Junior cornerback Josh DeBerry has been outstanding, leading BC in tackles and also picking off two passes. Fellow junior Elijah Jones joins DeBerry as another experienced corner.
Boston College’s third starter in the secondary is a familiar name to folks in Tallahassee. Jaiden Woodbey, a former FSU safety/linebacker, has bounced back from his significant knee injury back in 2019 to have a nice year for BC. He’s started all 11 games and has two interceptions and 38 tackles. At safety opposite the former FSU five-star signee, Jason Maitre was lost for the season a few weeks ago.
While the Seminoles made some strides in the passing game last week, the secondary is a significant strength for BC this season. So we'll give the Eagles the nod, while acknowledging they haven't faced many potent passing games this season.
WINNER: BOSTON COLLEGE
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