If you still don’t think that FSU’s first road game of the 2018 season, a road tilt against the Syracuse Orange, is a losable game, then congrats, because you must be really rested, having slept through the first two weeks of the season. Usually, games against the Orange are more about guessing the margin of the Seminole victory, but this time around, that gap — and the team that will finish on top — are very much up for debate, as reflected by the disparate score predictions featured below.
Soooo... is this real life? While none of us expected the season to start like this, there was noticeable improvement from VT to Samford on a short week of practice. There are some encouraging changes on the depth chart this week, specifically at WR, where D.J. Matthews rightfully ascends to starter alongside Gavin and Terminator Terry. However, FSU will be facing a QB that has the potential to light up a stat sheet. The defense will definitely give up points, but I think the offense will score plenty as well, with Cam Akers showing more patience. In a year full of growing pains, FSU walks away from this one with more bumps and bruises... but also with a much-needed win.
FSU 45, Syracuse 42
A multiple-score loss to Virginia Tech and barely squeaking by an FCS team. Not where we thought this team would be, but maybe we should have seen this coming. It’s clear the offensive line isn’t where Taggart wants or needs it to be, and injuries to just about everyone on the line has compounded the issues. I think the only offensive lineman who didn’t get pulled, hurt, or shuffled against Samford was Eberle. Overall the offense did some good things vs Samford, but what this offense could be still feels frustratingly just out of reach. The good news is a lot of other things can get fixed this year, and that the defense settles down. Syracuse also runs a Baylor-type offense, and while their quarterback Eric Dungey can sling it, their defense isn’t great. Hopefully with another week of practice the offense takes a few steps closer, the defense weathers the early punches, and FSU can survive a shootout.
FSU 38, Syracuse 34
“Life finds a way.”
Those words were spoken by the famed mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm in Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 documentary Jurassic Park. Malcolm is a noted expert in Chaos Theory, which is coincidentally an apt descriptor of FSU’s offense in the first 2 games of this season. But, like the genetically-mutated dinos on Isla Nublar, I expect a resilient performance from the ’Noles this week.
Points will not just be a luxury for Willie Taggart’s offense, they will be a necessity if he wants to keep up with Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and his QB Eric Dungey. The Orange offense is as potent as Dilophosaurus spit, but luckily, their defense is as threatening as a goat in a T-Rex cage. Hold on to your butts; this is going to be a close game.
FSU 37 secured bags, Syracuse 34 turnover backpacks
Predictions are difficult, especially about the future. Give me FSU 35-31. But I wouldn’t be surprised by FSU 51-27, or SYR 35-20.
At this point I’m fitting myself for pads so I too can get injured playing offensive line. Syracuse has an awful defense but a very good offense, making them bizarro FSU. If you’re going to score, this is the game to do it. FSU 35, SYR 31
There are some that think this is the game FSU breaks out and turns the season around. There are some that think this is a shootout game. I am neither of those. I think Syracuse scores early and FSU stumbles out of the blocks behind a shaky OL. A late charge by Florida State falls short. Syracuse 41, FSU 28
My guess is we should know by the end of the 1st quarter. If FSU is forced to play catch-up all day against Eric Dungey and the ’Cuse offense...I don’t see how we keep up. But if FSU can score a TD or two early, the defense could start to play a little more aggressively and create 3 or 4 more turnovers. Ultimately, I’m going to have to see better execution from FSU’s QB and OL on a consistent basis before I can truly believe in them on the road in conference play. Syracuse 38, FSU 31
I think the `Noles defense will be able to slow down Syracuse enough times to allow the FSU offense to outscore them. I still don’t think all the problems we’ve been witnessing over the first two games, on both sides of the ball, will get fixed this quickly, but it will hopefully improve a little each week.
I expect FSU to win the game due to the Seminoles’ superior defense and the continuing improvement by the FSU offense, which will be good enough to outscore Syracuse.
FSU 34, Syracuse 27
There will be a shootout in New York at high noon on Saturday. Make no mistake, Syracuse QB Eric Dungey is going to be a problem. But, credit to the FSU defense as it has shown an ability to make key stops. We might even be lucky enough to see a few bags secured.
Against a lousy ’Cuse defense, we SHOULD see a better outing from FSU’s offense. We keep hearing from coaches that this offense is close, and i’m trying my hardest to believe it. Running the ball will be key to escaping with a win. A mixture of impatience, poor vision, and lackluster play from the offensive line has halted the running game early this season. Luckily, this could be the game to turn it around. FSU backs have man-handled Syracuse defenses in recent years, including Jacques Patrick’s 162 yards and three touchdowns in 2015 and Cam Akers’ 199 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.
As hesitant as I am to make this pick, my dumb brain still tells me that the ’Noles win. FSU 38, Syracuse 35.
Syracuse gave up 621 yards of total offense to Western Michigan in week 1 and 288 yards of total offense to Wagner in week 2. If the FSU offense can’t figure out a way to get the offensive kinks worked out against the Orange, I’m not sure it’ll be in the cards for the 2018 season. FSU needs to avoid a slow start and show some steady improvement on both sides of the ball. I’d like to think that the defense will find a way to slow Dungey and Co. down enough to allow Florida State to eek out a victory in the Dome. Maybe I’m just a blind homer, but I like FSU in a close shootout. Please note the lack of successful FSU field goal attempts in my final score prediction. #LetTylerKick
Florida State 42, Syracuse 38
Florida State needed four interceptions and some bone-headed mistakes from Devlin Hodges to beat FCS Samford last week. That’s not a good sign for things to come, as the schedule only gets harder from here. Oh, and the depth on FSU’s offensive line continues to take hits. It’s time we start considering that Florida State is more of a rebuilding job than previously thought. Call me a hater, but I think ’Cuse gets the better of Florida State in this one.
Syracuse 34, Florida State 24
I just can’t pick Florida State to win comfortably, because nothing has looked comfortable this season. Moreover, I’m not sure I can pick FSU to win at all.
Spying Dungey could help the Seminoles to get more DBs on the field and reduce their spotty linebacker play, but I still think the Orange will score plenty. Even if it’s encouraging that the ’Nole D has has adjusted as games have progressed.
Still, getting behind in a road ACC game is a different animal than falling behind at home, and if FSU does it again, even more pressure will be applied to an already suspect Seminole OL. I could go back and forth on this forever, and as much as I’m tempted to tip the scales in favor of Syracuse due to the home crowd and FSU’s disappointing special teams play, I think that Florida State’s talent edge provides for a win by the slimmest of margins.
Seminoles 31, Orange 30
As a side note, I’ll not be able to cover the game against Syracuse, due to another death in my family. It’s been a rough 2018 in that regard, but since these prediction pieces are a collaborative effort, I think that this is an appropriate place to mention just how supportive my fellow Tomahawk Nation contributors have been with their comments, as well as with taking up the slack with coverage responsibilities. And that applies to no one more than our founder, Bud Elliott.
Bud has been not only a colleague with whom I run this site, but also a friend, and the latter has certainly been on display throughout this trying time for my family and I. Grateful does not begin to describe my reaction to Bud and the entire TN family for their steadfast support and willingness to chip in and keep the trains running on time. Thanks so much to the SB Nation site that is No. 1 in not only in page views, but also when it comes to enduring empathy.
Be sure to check out the Nolecast for predictions from Bud, as well as Ingram Smith.