Florida State will play at Bobby Dodd Stadium this week for the first time since 2008 as the Seminoles (6-0, 4-0 ACC) take on Georgia Tech (2-4, 0-4) at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. It will be the first time since 2009 that the two schools have met outside of the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, where their last two meetings have taken place in 2012 and 2014.
The 'Noles are coming off their best performance of the season against Louisville last week, and will now put the nation's top-rated opponent adjusted rushing offense against a GT defense that will ripe to run on, especially if Dalvin Cook's hamstring is back closer to full health.
Cook is 45 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for the season already, and the Seminoles will be going against a defensive front that averages just over 260 pounds across the line that doesn't have much more in the way of size behind the starters, either. Everett Golson has been in much better form in the last two games since Jimbo Fisher changed things up over the bye week pre-Miami and started heavily incorporating screens and short passes, and FSU will look to keep its incredible turnover-free streak intact in Atlanta against a unit that has forced 13 this season.
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Defensively, FSU will take on Paul Johnson's triple option attack.
Florida State's run defense has been stout thus far, as the 'Noles come into the weekend in the top 10 in the nation against the run according to S&P+ rankings. A key for FSU will be forcing Tech into passing downs, where the Yellow Jackets have struggled. While GT is a top-10 offense on standard downs, on passing downs the Jackets rank much further down at No. 57.
One question for FSU will be who lines up at the star position, the hybrid defensive back-outside linebacker role when the Seminoles roll out their dime package.
Trey Marshall was lost for the year last week when he suffered a torn biceps, while replacement Tyler Hunter did not impress before being diagnosed with a concussion this week. The 'Noles could slot freshman Derwin James into the star slot this week, as his physicality will be a good fit against the ground attack of GT and the Jackets' passing offense unlikely to expose any weaknesses in coverage.
If James does indeed slot in at star, and safety Nate Andrews is healthy enough to play (bone bruise), we could see a back five consisting of Jalen Ramsey at boundary corner with Marquez White on the field side, James at the star and Lamarcus Brutus and Andrews occupying the safety spots.
Linebacker Terrance Smith remains unavailable, but FSU may be better off resting him to ensure full health going into the Clemson game on Nov. 7, where his superior coverage skills will be needed much more than they will against GT.
As always, Bud and Ingram will provide an extensive preview in the Nolecast ahead of the game tomorrow night. Make sure to give it a listen and rate on iTunes.