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Florida State football: Boston College preview and prediction

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The Noles take on the Eagles on Senior Day.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State hosts Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day Saturday when Boston College comes to town. The Eagles are 6-4, having reached bowl eligibility under Stave Addazio. Florida State will be looking to win its 27th consecutive game and go to 56-10 under Jimbo Fisher. Fans and students will be looking for an escape in the wake of the tragic shooting at the library Thursday.

It feels like Boston College has the same defense every year: strong up front but questionable on the back end. The BC defensive line is a good run stopping unit mostly due to their size. Both DTs Kevin Kavalec and Truman Gutapfel do a nice job of holding the point of attack and allowing the linebackers behind them to make plays without having to deal with offensive linemen.

However, much like Miami, Boston College struggles to generate a pass rush with their front four and relies much more on blitzing linebackers to get after the QB. DC Don Brown has created an attacking defense that forces offensive linemen and backs to be on the same page to prevent their QB from being planted on dropbacks. Jimbo Fisher has expressed a lot of respect for Brown in previous years, going back to his days at Maryland. Unfortunately, Brown doesn't have the athletes he needs in the secondary to show any sort of consistent defensive dominance.

Opponents get a first down on just 59 percent of their drives against the Eagles, a very low rate, but when the Eagles do fail to get an early stop, drives often end up in scores.

Neither the DBs, or LBs cover particularly well for BC. There just isn't much to say about the BC secondary. Case in point: Wake Forest is ranked 120 out of 128 schools in passing S&P but managed to average just over 8 yards a pass. In all fairness that's the most y/p BC has given up this year and the most John Wolford has had all year but it does show the issues BC has had defending teams through the air.

FSU should have no problem moving the ball on the Eagles as long as they can keep Jameis Winston upright, and I don't think they'll have much of a problem doing that. The Noles showed an improved line by moving Cam Erving to center and promoting Rod Johnson to the starting LT spot. Expect BC to attack both those areas with blitzes, especially Johnson, and try to create confusion to pressure Winston. Even if they do, Winston should have receivers running free and just needs to not force the ball. I'm most interested in seeing how well FSU can run the ball against this stout BC front.

Time: 3:30 ET | Line: FSU -17 | O/U 56

V. Boston College's Offense

Boston College's offense is very Addazio-like. When your head coach is an offensive line coach you're going to focus on running the ball and the Eagles certainly do that. QB Tyler Murphy and RB Jon Hillman get the lion's share of the carries by a large margin but WR Sherman Alston will also get a few touches to help keep defenses honest.

You'd probably think that this BC offense is plodding and methodical, lacking in explosiveness, but that's really not the case. BC can go on methodical drives, but they also go three-and-out on almost 40 percent of their drives, which is very high (FSU does it on 27 percent, for perspective).

QB Tyler Murphy is an excellent runner, but far from a precision passer. He is dangerous with his legs and can go on some very long runs, and he can hit open receivers, but he has not shown that he can drop back and throw very well.

Expect FSU to stop the run at all costs, while playing conservatively in the secondary to ward off play action shots down the field. FSU also needs to be wary of the Eagles running on passing downs, as over half of their plays in such long down and distance have been kept on the ground. BC's receivers are not great at getting open, and the Eagles know that.

FSU struggled against Miami through the air when the Hurricanes went to a larger front, but fared much better while in the nickel. Will FSU elect to do the same against BC? The Eagles do not posses the same passing aptitude as the Canes but could hurt FSU if they can get some open receivers down the field. FSU's linebacker play will be something to watch here, and how they work with the front to be gap sound will be the key.

Special Teams

As you would expect, Boston College punts the ball a lot and Alex Howell does a good job of pinning teams deep. BC uses a rotating kicker opting to use Howell on the longer kicks and Joey Launceford on the shorter kicks. Launceford has yet to miss on any of his kicks inside the 30 but Howell has struggled a big from 40 out. BC might be better off punting in those situations or just going for it.

Prediction

Boston College is not a good team. They are a physical team that can ugly up most any game but they might struggle to do so due to lackluster play in the secondary. Ultimately this game is going to fall on FSU's shoulders. This is a sandwich game between 2 of FSU's biggest rivals and being played in a week in which a terrible tragedy occurred so focus will be a question. I think for once this year FSU will start out strong and put things away early.

Florida State 41, Boston College 14

Bud: Florida State 42, Boston College 20

Staff Predictions

ricobert: FSU better not mess around with a much-improved over l‎ast year BC. Think we'll be up and down but take it home 38-24.

Dustin Tackett: The Seminoles have found a way to block out everything off-the-field and win all year. While Thursday's news is nothing they've dealt with before, I believe they'll again rally around each other and their fellow 'Noles.

Winston finally breaks through, the defense comes up big and more Dalvin Cook. 38-24 FSU.

TimScribble: I think BC makes it a game, FSU pulls ahead late. 34-21

The K-Man: This game boils down to who makes the least mistakes, and the Eagles will Billy Gramatica their own talons.

Tyler Murphy can't figure things out early, and foolishly gashes the Noles D for 95 yards and a pair of broken play TD's in the 1st half. Coach Adazzio rips into his squad at halftime for their 13-point lead, shaming the offensive line for averaging 8.3 yards a carry, as their 3rd down D baits itself into shutting down Winston (Ugh. Steve can be SUCH a game control freak sometimes).

Yadda yadda yadda.

Malik Henry future this, Burt Reynolds past that.

Noles score 24 unanswered to win comfortably 34-27, as the game is never in doubt after our last 4th down stop at 6:58 pm EST.

Oh, and congratulations to our seniors on Senior Day at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Odd celebrating our amazing senior class on the 2nd to last home game of 2014, but the UF game is for honoring our Redshirt Sophomore players. WINK WINK.

Kyle Griffis: In a football game that hopefully helps provide healing to the entire University community, the 'Noles pull away in the second half, defeating BC 42-17 to remain, as always, Unconquered.

NoleThruandThru: Boston College, and under appreciated coach Addazio, make a game of it through halftime.

The Fighting Fishers, however, remain Unconquered and united. Rally round the Noles.

FSU 38 BC 20

FSUed: The start is not as slow and the finish is not as fast. Noles lead 24-14 at the half and cruise to a 41-24 win.

DA-2: 30-17 FSU. FSU drops into 4th gear and cruises to an easy victory with an early lead.

Jmnpb996: behind reconfigured offensive line and a lack of first half turnovers, Noles go into half up 3 scores and cruise to an easy cover. 48-24

FSUvaFan: FSU 42 - BC 14.  I don't think teams that can't pass well will do much to this defense - assuming our offense can stay on the field.  I'm predicting the new O Line plays well, keeps our offense on the field, and we have better "game control" because of it.

PhenomeNoles: Key to this game is to play with a lead. Noles will play inspired ball in front of a university looking for something to distract them from tragedy. Noles 41-17