It’s time to discuss the specifics of the Seminoles’ primetime Labor Day showdown with the Virginia Tech Hokies. VT fans are some of the nicest, most rational college football enthusiasts I’ve encountered, so we’ll try to be on our best behavior. Now here’s the part where we fail miserably in that endeavor:
If you like points, this game is for you. Neither defense looks to be strong. VT because they don’t have any players and FSU because the linebackers are likely terrible, and I’d expect issues gelling in a new scheme. However both offenses should do well. I think VT’s offense might be better than FSU’s at this point in the season, but Josh Jackson seems wildly overrated by many in the national media (kind of like Deondre Francois going into the Alabama game last year). It’s not that I think he’s terrible, but I think he struggles more than most when VT gets behind the chains, and I think FSU’s defense will feast more than previous seasons in that scenario. FSU 45 VT 35
The lights will shine bright in a rocking Doak Campbell Stadium, ushering in a new era for the Seminoles. There will be growing pains and errors, surprises, bad penalties, and big plays. Virginia Tech’s offense will take advantage of FSU’s weak and unproven LB unit in the first half, carving up the middle of the field and forcing Barnett to make adjustments. Virginia Tech’s defense has taken too many offseason hits, and the lack of depth and experience in Bud Foster’s group will ultimately cost the Hokies as Deondre Francois, Cam Akers, and a deep WR corps lead FSU to a 4th-quarter comeback victory.
FSU 31, Virginia Tech 27
FSU 49 VT 27
More possessions equals more points, defensive attrition for Virginia Tech allows Lethal Simplicity to run wild in the opener. Expect lots of coverage busts for both teams resulting in some huge explosive plays. Tamorrion “Trinidad” Terry scores twice and the ’Noles roll in Willie Taggart’s debut.
Expect Florida State to come out hot, hungry, and humbled. Don't come into Doak Campbell Stadium on Monday thinking that this is the same second-half team that left fans leaving the game with grey hair. Big plays WILL happen sooner rather than later. While I’m not saying the ’Noles won’t be explosive in the second half, I do believe that some of the players will struggle with endurance due to the installation of the new offense. The depth Florida State has at running back should help alleviate this problem, however, by allowing the team to stay fresh and tire out their opposing defenses with ease. I think this will allow Florida State to edge out Virginia Tech’s defense that is already riddled with injury and loss.
FSU 37 VT 27
With minimal rain chances, this games just screams pointsapalooza. FSU is breaking in a new defense; VT still has to take theirs out of the packaging. Offensively, I like Josh Jackson in their uptempo spread offense. But unlike FSU, they don’t have the backfield for it; VT’s adjusted rushing numbers since 2014: 108th, 84th, 95th (Fuente’s 1st year), and 68th. I don’t expect VT to be able to force FSU into favorable run matchups because of it. FSU, however, does have the horses. I’m not even that sure Cam Akers is FSU’s best back. Couple that with FSU’s four-guard offense, and it’ll be off to the races.
FSU 35 VT 27
It’s well known that Virginia Tech will be heading to Tallahassee depleted on the defensive side of the ball, and FSU has its own questions there as well. The combined lack of depth and experience at key positions for both teams suggests that this will turn into a high-scoring affair.
Deondre Francois was able to win his starting job back in fall camp, but that doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t been in a game situation for a year. He will likely need to knock off some rust, but with an explosive receiving corps, I expect plenty of chances for 12 to get his groove back. This one will be close at the half, but as the game goes on, the Seminoles’ stable of running backs exhausts Tech’s defense, with big nights from both Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick. The defense will get the stops that they need, and the offense capitalizes.
FSU 42, VT 21
Someone bring the sweet potato casserole, cause ’Noles smoke the turkeys.
FSU 45 VT 23
Points. Points? POINTS!
If this game was a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis as an old-timey oil tycoon, it would be called “There Will Be Points.” VT’s head coach Justin Fuente is a talented offensive mind and will be able to scheme up about 24 points against a newly-installed FSU defense. The only problem for Fuente and the Hokies is that the ’Noles are going to score over 40. Lethal Simplicity makes a successful debut on the national stage, and Florida State drinks Virginia Tech’s milkshake.
FSU 41 VT 24
I’m honestly not sure what to expect this game. Can FSU establish a running game and hit some deep shots? Can VT confuse the new FSU defense? So much uncertainty. Let’s hope the Taggart era starts with a boom.
FSU 28 VT 24
I’m taking FSU over Virginia Tech 34-27, but I can’t say I’m super confident in that pick. There are just so many questions on both sides of the ball. The Hokie defense has suffered substantial attrition this offseason, but I’m equally concerned about the FSU offensive line in the first game action of the season running a new system.
We all know Bud Foster will be able to cook up some pressure on Francois. How will his knee hold up against contact? On the defensive side of the ball, the lack of depth at some key positions is worrisome, and I have a feeling Josh Jackson won’t be flustered by the atmosphere. If SSIII and Kaindoh are limited, the big play potential is there for VT. I have a bad feeling this one could be closer than many might think.
Bet the over on this one, folks. Virginia Tech lost a whole bunch on defense and Florida State is breaking in several new defensive starters as well. As such, points will be aplenty.
With Deondre Francois taking his first snaps in a year, the pressure will be on Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick to carry the offense. Look for FSU’s running backs to get the bulk of the offensive yards in this one. If FSU’s offensive line is able to stay healthy, the Seminoles should be able to get the ground game going, which will open up holes for Francois in the passing game.
This may be a common theme throughout the year, but FSU will need a solid pass rush in this game. With new linebackers and injuries in the secondary, FSU needs players like Brian Burns and Walvenski Aime to step up if they want to contain Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson.
In the end, I have FSU winning this one. I think Akers has the first 100-yard performance of his sophomore campaign, and Francois looks solid in his first game back from injury. The Willie Taggart era at Florida State starts at 1-0.
FSU 38, Virginia Tech 27
I expect FSU’s offense to keep VT’s defense off balance and to be able to score points more often than not. I also expect FSU’s defense to give up a few big plays, which will allow VT to keep the game closer than it should be.
I’m excited to see what the new FSU offense can do, but I’m also concerned about the defense. Regardless, thankfully, the 2018 FSU football season is here.
FLORIDA STATE 38 - Virginia Tech 24
Y'all know that I tend to weigh in last for a reason, and that’s because I like to take the 30,000-foot view of things. Virginia Tech doesn’t really have much to prove here. Despite their ranking, the Hokies are underdogs, on the road, in an inter-divisional game.
Florida State is bringing in an (almost) entirely new staff, one that has been roundly lauded, and a unit that still commands superior talent. Don’t think, for a second, that these players aren’t feeling some pressure, especially after watching so many other favored teams barely hold serve over the weekend.
But perhaps the threats faced by so many other ranked teams, against foes far less challenging than a ranked-VT squad, won’t be lost on the Seminoles. Maybe FSU will treat it as a wakeup call, one for which Florida State fans have been hoping for quite some time. Expect the ’Nole defensive line to play with fire, the FSU offense to trigger quicker than any you’ve seen in recent memory, and the Seminoles to ultimately use pace to pull ahead of Virginia Tech.
That pace will lead to many more blowouts this year for FSU, but I just don’t know if those boat races will commence on Labor Day night. Monday night’s affair may disturb a pacemaker or two, but the home crowd will prove audacious enough to will Florida State to win this one, 34-30.
As always, hit up the Nolecast for score predictions from our Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith.