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Florida State football: Virginia Preview & Prediction

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Can Florida State put together a complete game on homecoming? Or will the Seminoles be looking ahead to Miami?

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 6:30 ET | Line: FSU -18.5 | O/U 55.5

As the temps dip into the fifties, it's homecoming in Tallahassee, as Virginia rolls into town and plays FSU for the Jefferson Eppss trophy. The Wahoos are much improved from last season, but are still just 4-5, losing three straight.

V. Virginia's Defense

Virginia is definitely a defensive based team as head coach Mike London has built a unit that resembles that of his days as Virginia's DC. This unit returns almost every player that started for it last year and is almost the complete opposite of last year's version. In 2013 the UVA defense did an excellent job on the average down but tended to give up too many big plays due to their aggressiveness. This year's version is more of the same.

The Virigina line will be one of the best FSU has faced all year (Clemson and Louisville are certainly better, and Notre Dame probably is, too) with top line starters in players like Elil Harold and Donte Wilkins and backups like freshman Arthur Brown (No. 1 DT in the country last cycle) getting a bunch of reps. With the FSU line fighting through injuries the way they have this year they will be more than challenged up front. One interesting piece to note is that UVA just wrapped up a game against Georgia Tech and while they didn't suffer any injuries, teams can tend to show line issues in the week after playing a triple option attack.

FSU should be able to attack the UVA secondary and that's not a knock on the DBs. UVA has a pair of excellent safeties in Anthony Harris and Quin Blanding, but the talent level drops off a bit at cornerback.

Expect FSU to come out throwing to set up the run. The passing game for FSU has actually gotten better as the year has gone on as teams cannot focus on any 1 or 2 players. Expect FSU to run a similar offense to the one they pulled out against Louisville and force the Cavaliers to either use it's linebackers in coverage or take them off the field for more DBs. The Noles also had more success running out of the 1 TE, 1 RB set they showed against Louisville and it will be interesting to see if the Noles can continue that success for another week.

Games against Virginia's aggressive defense often lack flow, and they are susceptible to passes on first down, as they focus on stopping the run on early downs. Look for FSU to work the short pass and then add in double moves later in the ballgame, as the defensive backs get frustrated and look to jump routes.

Goals: 6.5 yards/play before garbage time; no more than 1 turnover; 60 percent touchdowns in the red zone.

V. Virginia's Offense

Virginia is certainly a tale of two sides, and as good as the defensive side is, the offensive side is as bad. Virginia isn't "Wake Forest" bad on offense, to be sure, but it simply don't do anything all that efficiently.

Virginia wants to be a running team, but it does so often from the shotgun without a great thread of a zone read and without a great passing game, which means, well ...

Play design and play-calling. We run delayed handoffs out of the shotgun instead of read-options. No one expects Lambert to run so his presence back there doesn't give the defense any reason to stay honest and off the RBs. Instead, Steve Fairchild's run designs just allow the defensive players an extra second to get to the ball-carrier. If it's first down, Kevin Parks is getting it to go right up into the middle of the line of scrimmage; everyone in the stadium knows it by the end of the first quarter. When Parks and Khalek Shepherd are able to get a gap or two, they've been able to gash the soft underbellies of opposing defenses. The line play has been inconsistent, which of course doesn't help matters any. But from what I've seen, blame flows directly back into the coaching box. This is a vanilla offense, and one without any discernible tactical identity.

And now the starting left tackle and left guard might be out for the Wahoos. Still, Virginia is good at picking up a first down or two per drive, and it rarely allows tackles for loss.

Darius Jennings is a dangerous receiver, but No. 2/3 receiver Miles Gooch is out. UVA is a good screen team, and FSU's defense cannot play out of control.

Goals: Less than 4.5 yards/play allowed before garbage time, force two turnovers, less than 40 percent touchdowns allowed in red zone.

Prediction

FSU 41, Virginia 16 -- FSU has greater than a 90 percent chance of winning and the team is healthier than it has been in a few weeks. Virginia's offense shouldn't get on track.

Staff Predictions

FSUed: Hard to believe there are only 3 more games (gulp – famous last pre-hearing words) to see Jameis at Doak. UVA will try to use ball control to keep Winston off the field, but a healthy defense with growing confidence will not allow this to happen consistently.

This won’t be a 2013-style blowout, but will feel better than some of the nail-biter/sloggy games thus far this season. FSU 41-17.

PhnomeNole: 41-13. Noles jump on them early for once. UVA has two starters on the OL out. Should be pretty tough sledding for the Cavs. I'm not convinced the UVA defense is as strong as they were touted to be early on in the season. I'll keep predicting a blowout until it actually happens.

NTAT: UVA gives FSU exactly what they need, when they need it. Winston rolls, Pender gets in the end zone twice, and Rashad Greene adds to his totals to get within striking distance to another record. First team defense has a strong outing and gets constant pressure in the backfield, forcing 3 turnovers. We also see angry Aguayo after he missed a field goal last week.... ANGRUAYO. Don't get in his way.

FSU 55

UVA 17

Jmnpb996: UVA normally gets away with having rangy safeties clean up after weak foverage and run support elsewhere. Noles running game is going to be solid.

41-14

TimScribble: JW throws another interception, probably on a force throw. UVA's ends and OLBs will bring some pressure but FSU will still win. 41-12

Alan Mundy: 45-13 Defense feasts on a depleted Virginia OL and sparks the rout.

Kyle Griffis: I would love to see the 'Noles come out clicking early, especially for the sake of the Kidz1st Touchdown Drive, but I have no reason to believe that happens. I think UVA eats the clock with their slow offense in the first half, but FSU pulls away in the second half, as usual. Defense looks good finally being pseudo-healthy, and Aguayo redeems himself going 2-for-2. 'Noles win 34-13 for their 25th straight win. Dunn still got in.

pbysh: 41-17 good guys.

nolesblogger: 31-20 Noles. Jameis has 10 grand on UVA +18.

FrankDNole: UVA annoys me. 48-17.

Ricardo's missed FG streak continues.

It's gon rain.

It's gon be cold.

FSUvsFan: FSU 35, UVA 18

ricobert1: 38-17. Think our running game has gotten going now.

Dustin Tackett: Virginia will struggle mightily with key losses on the offensive line, and Mario Edwards Jr, Eddie Goldman and Lorenzo Featherston will feast on the hopes and dreams of snapping its 3-game losing streak. Winston will shine, as will the FSU backfield, and the Kidz 1st Fund will benefit. No worries all around for this guy. 41-13 Eff Ess You