The Seminoles enter this game against the Blue Devils as a favorite, albeit by a point-spread that has shrunk since it was first released. Here’s how we think this one plays out:
Juan Montalvo III:
This is the first time I’ve made a prediction all season. So I am choosing top billing.
Duke is a tough place to play. No, seriously. Not because the crowd is loud, or because Duke is historically great at home. But because it is simply disorienting— this is supposed to be a basketball school. They had a track around the campus up until FSU’s last trip there. It now appears to be a real football stadium.
That said, this ain’t hoops, and JJ Reddick ain’t walking through that door. FSU slaps the floor with Duke:
FSU 27, Duke 17
An ugly game in the trenches. Duke’s backs have some talent, and with FSU down a couple of linebackers, I expect Duke to have some success on the ground due to some young linebackers over-pursuing with their most extended playing time of the season. FSU should continue to lean on its improving running game with an emerging Cam Akers whom suddenly didn’t look like the game was moving too fast for him between the tackles. It’ll be tough (FSU gets everyone’s best shot regardless of record) and it’ll be sloppy, but in the end just not enough firepower for Duke to to pull off the upset.
FSU 24 Duke 17
I’m going to assume I’ll get bombarded for my prediction for the fifth straight game even though I’ve been close to the final score or the final margin of victory.
Nevertheless, I am still not confident in this Florida State offense being able to put up points, and think this game will be determined on the ground. Duke has a fantastic run defense that ranks seventh in the country giving up 2.85 YPC. It held Miami’s Mark Walton to 3.0 YPC after his monstrous start to the season in which he recorded 13.0 YPC through his first 27 carries (Yes, they were against not the best teams, however that is still impressive). Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick will be held in check for the most part, but I think Akers breaks a long run for a touchdown. Receiving-wise, FSU is still struggling with health, especially with Keith Gavin out, and the offensive line will be without arguably its best, and most consistent lineman, Landon Dickerson.
Duke struggles through the air, which is where I believe Florida State’s defense will win the game. Once again, I’m wary of the big chunk plays, but in the end, I think the defense can get the job done well enough.
Florida State: 20
Despite the loss, I think Florida State took a step forward against Miami. James Blackman threw the first two interceptions of his career, but rebounded by leading the Seminoles on critical touchdown drives late in the game. The defense played well for the most part, but its effort was overshadowed by giving up back-to-back 75-yard scoring drives to the ’Canes to end the game.
Duke started out the season strong at 4-0, beating notable out-of-conference opponents like Northwestern and Baylor. But the Blue Devils have lost two straight against Miami and Virginia. Quarterback Daniel Jones had a fantastic freshman season, but is struggling to move the ball this year.
Florida State has a notable talent advantage in this game at every level. Even with Keith Gavin out for this game, the ’Noles should be able to move the ball with a decent amount of success. Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers were awesome last week, and Jimbo Fisher has already said that we should see talented freshman D.J. Matthews get some burn as well.
Defensively, FSU has a chance to dominate this game. Duke’s offensive line hasn’t been particularly good this season nor have its receivers given Jones any help. Look for Florida State to get consistent pressure with four rushers, allowing Tarvarus McFadden and company to sit back and get an interception or two.
Florida State 34, Duke 13
Here’s another game that, on paper, should be a convincing win for FSU. Duke impressed early this season, but has come crashing down to Earth lately, most recently losing at Virginia last weekend.
However, FSU has yet to come anything close to dominating in a game this season. And, in some ways, this Duke team plays well against FSU’s current strengths on the offensive side of the ball.
The Blue Devils are allowing only 2.85 yards per carry this season, 9th best in the FBS. They have also forced 10 turnovers and turned four of those into defensive touchdowns. FSU trotting out a freshman quarterback who has relied on the run game that has developed with each passing week plays into Duke’s strength.
Still, I’m taking the Seminoles, as I don’t believe Duke will be able to move the ball consistently at all against FSU’s stacked defense. The Seminoles may be somewhat limited offensively early on, but the defense’s ability to get Duke’s offense off the field quickly will wear the Blue Devils defense down as the game carries into the second half.
I hope the team is more pumped up for this game than I am, otherwise we could seriously be looking at the first loss to Duke in Florida State football history. There’s been a lot of streaks broken in the last few years, but that one...that would hurt.
I’m hoping this is fiiiiiiiinnnaaaaaaly the game we see Cam Akers make the last man miss and break off a long TD run, that Jimbo fiiiiiiiinnnnalllly decides to try and get D.J. Matthews involved in the offense, and Derwin James fiiiiiinnnalllly grabs an interception or forces a fumble that isn’t overturned by a penalty.
Another ugly game from start to finish. Defense will flash, offense will flash, but neither at the same time. With the injuries piling up, FSU will have to rely on some new faces. Will we finally see some true freshmen at WR? What about some more of those young running backs? Are they ready or do they need to dress out for travel games and get some more leadership reps? When is the last time ’Nole fans felt uncomfortable about beating Duke? Welcome to 2017.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Florida State will start slow and struggle. The defense will keep the game close as they did in the first half against Miami. FSU will look to control the clock behind a new offensive line, which will cause a low scoring affair. Florida State will pull away late by two scores. Fans will call this game boring and Jimbo will say "keep cheering."
The ’Noles hop on trains, planes, and automobiles up to Durham this weekend, and our head ball coach has a message for the critics.
“You wanna hurt me, Bud? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right. I punt too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me. I'm not changing. I like me. My ex-wife likes me. My fans like me. 'Cause I'm the real article. What you see is what you get.”
The Process: 14
Devil’s Due: 9
When this Seminoles’ bus rolls into Wallace Wade, hell comes with it.
Florida State Seminoles 34 - Duke Devil Blues 17
Currently shooting on location in DC, so here’s my quick take. If UF can somehow luck through a win against Kentucky, we should be able to stumble our way to a against Duke.
FSU 17 - Duke 14
First, a process note— call it a peek behind the curtain. I set up this article and receive these predictions from our staff as the week progresses, making edits along the way to prep the piece for Friday morning. I nod when I read most, shake my head at some, but rarely am emotionally moved. And then the K-Man (last whereabouts still unknown) drops that John Candy reference on us. If you didn’t recognize it, here’s a tip: we’re nearing the holiday season, and you really need to do some Googling and viewing to become a complete human being.
Just like FSU needs to become a complete football team. I think there are several stars aligned to suggest that this could happen. Blackman had yet another game-winning drive in the books, were it not for the Seminole defense’s late collapse against the Hurricanes. Akers and Patrick look good running the ball. And the defense seems close to making big plays.
But while the ’Noles should get a break in temperature heading north to Durham, it’s still tough for me to see many cool runnings ahead. Until this team proves otherwise, an agonizingly long afternoon seems destined for FSU fans on Saturday. Maybe find a cold beverage to calm your nerves.
Orange Whip? Orange Whip? Three Orange Whips.
FSU 27, Duke 23
As always, check out the Nolecast for picks from our Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith.