Regardless of whether or not Florida State’s season has lived up to the lofty preseason expectations, another week brings another matchup where the Seminoles are heavy favorites against a conference opponent, this time on the road against Syracuse. The Orange, at 4-6 on the year, have bowl eligibility on the line this week but will be severely outmatched, especially if they are without their starting quarterback, Eric Dungey.
The bigger storyline entering this game may be Dalvin Cook’s pursuit of history. The Florida State running back is 19 yards shy of becoming the school’s all-time rushing leader and 59 yards away from becoming the first 4,000-yard rusher in program history.
Cook taking the record seems inevitable at this point but how quickly do our staff writers think he takes the mark on Saturday? Do any of them give Syracuse a chance to keep it close late into the game? Here are this week’s staff predictions:
Barring a completely unfocused 'Noles team showing up, it would not appear a Syracuse team missing its starting QB presents much of a threat this weekend. The front seven continues to generate pressure, allowing the secondary to pick off a couple passes and the offense cashes in down in the red zone. Dalvin Cook secures his place at the top of the record books for career yards and Florida State cruises to a victory.
FSU 34, Cuse 14
I think FSU's gameplan for Syracuse is run, run, and then run some more. Syracuse is without its starting QB, but will still look to go tempo. This could lead to quick Syracuse offensive drives and long FSU offensive drives. I think FSU wins somewhere around 38-12. Oh, and Cook breaks the record.
FSU 34 Syracuse 13. I initially had Syracuse covering the spread due to Jimbo's notorious record against the spread out of state. However, with Syracuse's starting QB out and rumors of its best playmaker also being out, this is a game in which the defense should give the offense more than enough possessions to put up a high point-total on the road despite the natural look ahead spot of this game. Syracuse's run defense is the second worst on the schedule among FBS foes. (98th S&P rushing) Cook gets the record on his 2nd carry en route to a huge day on the ground for him & Jacques Patrick. Tarvarus McFadden celebrates his spot as a Nagurski Finalist with another Interception.
This game should be over by the end of third quarter, which is a little later than I prefer. Hopefully, Fisher will be in the position to pull all of the starters by the end of the third to reduce the risk of losing anyone for Florida, and to get the backups some quality snaps.
Cook will break Warrick Dunn's record by his fifth carry, and after achieving that milestone he will finish with another 100 yard rushing and 50 yards receiving game, and get pulled early enough to give Patrick, Ryan Green, and Amir Rasul some significant carries as well
The defense will do enough to hold Syracuse to 2 TD's and a FG.
FSU 48 - Pomegranates 17
Syracuse defense: Bad. FSU offense: Good.
Syracuse offense: Bad. FSU defense: Good.
Good 38, Bad 17.
Florida State is clearly a better team on paper, but Syracuse typically plays well in the stuffy confines of the Carrier Dome--just ask Virginia Tech. I'm not convinced FSU will repeat its red-hot first quarter from the BC game, but I also don't think the Seminoles fall behind by two touchdowns. Cook officially becomes the best running back in school history on his third carry and finishes the day with another 100 yard day and two more scores. FSU pulls away in the second half and wins by 17.
FSU 34, Syracuse 17
This could clearly be viewed as a look-ahead spot. A matchup on the road against a depleted Syracuse team with the Florida game looming. Because of this, the Orange keeps it close for a quarter.
However, the difference maker is the same man who makes Florida State history tomorrow. Remember last year’s game against Syracuse? Jacques Patrick went for 162 yards on the ground with Dalvin Cook out of the lineup. No disrespect to Patrick whatsoever but Cook is on another level. Cook breaks Dunn’s record on his first carry of the game (mark it down) and is over 4,000 career yards by halfway through the second quarter.
Syracuse gets a bit turnover prone after a decent start and the game gets away from them in a big way. Florida State wins 41-13.
This is an interesting game for FSU. After a season of underwhelming, inconsistent performances, the Seminoles put it all together last weekend against Boston College. So now the question becomes: was that an isolated incident (against a woeful BC team) or the new norm?
It's probably a bit of both. But 'Cuse could be without its playmaking QB, and, moreover, the Orange defense doesn't make it a habit of stopping too many people. Dalvin Cook's breakout game came in the Carrier Dome two years ago, to nobody's surprise-- Cook on turf is a nightmare proposition for any defense. Syracuse will be jacked up, as it needs to win its last two games to become bowl eligible, and will hang with the 'Noles for a while.
However, the Orange gave up 20 to BC. I like the 'Noles to double that total, and win this one 40-17.
Short and sweet, FSU wins 44-10. Dalvin Cook had tremendous success his freshman year against 'Cuse and should break out once again. Nyqwan Murray breaks 100 yards receiving and QB Deondre Francois plays a good, not great game.
Disclaimer: This prediction is based on Mahoney starting. If Dungey indeed starts for the Orange, I'd predict a 44-28 final as that vertical threat behing Dungey will cause some gaps to form in that FSU secondary.