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Staff Predictions: Florida State Seminoles vs Duke Blue Devils

Can Florida State beat Duke to go 7-0 for the 1st time since 2014?

Charles Mays/Tomahawk Nation

The 4th-ranked Florida State Seminoles are hosting the 16th-ranked Duke Blue Devils (5-1, 2-0 ACC) Saturday night, under the lights, in what is expected to be a raucous sold out crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium. The prime time game is being televised nationally on the ABC Network with the kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Seminoles (6-0, 4-0 ACC) are looking to remain undefeated and in the driver's seat of the ACC conference standings. Duke will be trying to defeat Florida State for the first time and snap their 21-game losing streak to the Seminoles.

Florida State and Duke have faced off twice as nationally ranked foes in 1994 and 2013. In the first ranked matchup on Oct. 29, 1994, FSU was ranked No. 9 and Duke No. 16. Nineteen years later on Dec. 7, 2013, FSU was ranked No. 1 in the country, while Duke held a national ranking of No. 20. Florida State has been ranked in 16 of its 21 previous appearances against Duke.

The Seminoles are in the midst of an 12 game winning streak, the third longest active streak in the country. The Noles have scored at least 30 points in every one of those 12 wins for the 2nd-longest active streak in the FBS, and have outscored their opponents 506-219.

FSU QB Jordan Travis has thrown 169 passes without an interception, has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 18 consecutive games, and has accounted for multiple TDs in 13 consecutive games for the longest active streak in the nation.

Duke QB Riley Leonard, who suffered a high ankle sprain on the last play of their loss to Notre Dame, is questionable to play on Saturday. With Leonard out last week against NC State, backup QB Henry Belin got the nod and led Duke to a 24-3 win. However, Belin attempted only 12 passes, completing 4 for 107 yards and one interception. Two of those 4 completions went for touchdowns. Duke relied on RB’s Jordan Waters (13 rushes for 123 yards and one touchdown) and Jaquez Moore (11 rushes for 45 yards) to take some of the pressure off Belin.

Earlier this week, Duke head coach Mike Elko said there is a chance Leonard will be back for the FSU game this weekend, but he also stated that they would not put him in position to put that ankle at risk. There is no mistaking that Leonard takes Duke to a different level, so it will be interesting to watch him when he comes out for pre-game warm ups.

This week Florida State coach Mike Norvell said they weren’t taking any chances. “I know he went through pregame warmups in their last game, just wasn’t quite ready to go. We’re going to prepare for him.”

The Florida State Seminoles will be celebrating its inaugural Seminole Heritage game, as well as their Homecoming weekend.

According to DraftKings, the Seminoles are a 14.5-point favorite against the Blue Devils, with the over/under set at 49.

A) Read what your TOMAHAWK NATION PROGNOSTICATORS think about this Saturday’s showdown.

2) Then look over and digest all of the FREE PREGAME CONTENT we’ve posted below.

D) We would love to hear your thoughts about how you feel about this game and your final score prediction in the comments.

  • Matt Minnick (Season record: 6-0; 5-1 ATS)

Welcome to the latest installment of #doakafterdark. Duke comes in with the best team they’ve had in years and make no mistake, this is a solid ball club.

The Blue Devils D line, in particular, is a physical and experienced bunch. But there ain’t no way Jordan Travis, Trey Benson, and Jared Verse came back to school to lose a home game in prime time.

Add in the best receiving corps in college football and the Devils are walking out of the house that St. Bobby built with their second loss of the season.

Florida State 34, Duke 14

  • Brian Pellerin (Season record: 5-1)

Will Riley Leonard play and how effective can he be? That’s the biggest key to this game. Duke has proven themselves plenty feisty without him so FSU will need to come ready to play regardless. But without him 100%, I don’t expect the Blue Devils to have enough firepower to keep up with FSU at Doak.

FSU 31. Duke 13

  • NoleThruandThru (Season record: 6-0)

I’d be lying if I said I was feeling confident in a walk-off victory for FSU over Duke. This game has concerned me for weeks. Mike Elko is a bona fide candidate for coach of the year, having worked magic in Durham during his short tenure. This year’s Duke squad is full of graduate transfers and fifth/sixth-year seniors, similar to the Grobe-era Wake Forest teams that gave FSU fits.

FSU has more talent across the board but talent alone won’t win this game. FSU’s offensive line must neutralize Duke’s defensive line and give Jordan Travis time in the pocket. Dropped passes cannot happen at the same clip against Syracuse, and the run game must be established early to keep Duke honest. And please, Mike Norvell, don’t get cute with the play-calling this weekend.

FSU catches a break with a limited Riley Leonard. When healthy, Leonard is exactly the type of quarterback with the combination of intelligence and athleticism to cause major concerns for this defense. If Adam Fuller’s group plays to the level they did against Syracuse, FSU should be okay, but the coaching staff at Duke is head and shoulders above that in Syracuse. I can see a scenario where FSU rallies to win a close game despite getting a bit out-coached. Prove me wrong, ‘Noles!

FSU 34, Duke 27

  • TimScribble (Season record: 5-1)

This has all the makings for a classic slugfest. Duke’s defense will be one of the best that the Seminoles have faced to date. The key will be the Blue Devil quarterback Riley Leonard. Will he play? And if so, how much will he be able to scramble. I think this is the difference in the end. FSU’s defensive line will be able to pressure and keep whichever Duke quarterback at bay and allow the Seminoles to pull out the win.

FSU 31, Duke 21

  • Jon Marchant (Season record: 6-0)

It all hinges on the health of Riley Leonard. If he can’t be dynamic and evade the rush and extend plays and scramble like his usual self then I can’t see Duke scoring enough to threaten an upset.

But if he is healthy, or even 85% healthy, then I think the Blue Devils could make things dangerously interesting for a while.

Duke is a well-coached and experienced team. They will probably give FSU’s OL fits, and harass Jordan Travis, potentially into some mistakes.

But at the end FSU is the better, more talented team, and I expect that to show.

Duke 20, FSU 33

  • LastNoleOfKrypton (6-0)

Give me FSU and the spread; I like FSU’s pass rush against Duke and I like FSU’s wide receivers pretty much against anyone. Duke’s defense is fast, good, and patient rarely blitzing opposing offenses. Ja’Mion Franklin is there leader up front but Dewayne Carter is probably the player with the higher ceiling. FSU’s guards will have to bring it. Offensively, I think Duke is going to have to pass the ball to beat FSU and I don’t think they can do it.

A sloppy game from FSU and it will be hard to score without explosive plays but I’m not expecting a sloppy game from FSU’s offense. Johnny Wilson and Bless Harris are expected back this week and this is probably the healthiest FSU’s offense has been since the opener.

FSU 41 Duke 17

  • FrankDNole (Season record: 6-0)

Duke’s 5 wins have been against the likes of Lafayette, Northwestern, Connecticut, NC State, and they caught Clemson on an off day. To their credit, they did play Notre Dame tough and they came back to take the lead in the 4th quarter after trailing all game, before Notre Dame scored the winning touchdown with under a minute to go.

If Leonard is able to play, FSU will only win by 17, something like 34-17. The FSU offensive line must play their best game of the season.

If Leonard is unable to play, which I hear is most probable, FSU will win by 24 points and the Noles defense line will have a field day harassing their freshman QB.

FSU Seminoles 41, Duke 17

  • Jordan Silversmith (Season Record: 5-1)

This game makes me nervous. Flat out, I do not think Saturday night will be a fun three hours. Even with QB question marks, Duke is just the type of team that could trouble Florida State. They are well coached and will take advantage of the inevitable bonehead FSU moments; they are physical across the board, capable of taking the crowd out of the game, and they will be ready for war, believing they can spoil FSU’s playoff hopes. The Seminoles will be given everything they can handle in this one as they deal with injury questions of their own.

Getting down to the matchups, whoever can control the line of scrimmage will win on Saturday. Duke rotates tons of bodies along the defense front and boasts significant talent inside. On the flip side, the Seminole defense looks to be playing up to their potential and is catching the Blue Devil offensive line at the right time, as Graham Barton still looks banged up from a knock he picked up a few weeks ago. At the end of the day, FSU will make enough plays, along with the fact that Duke cannot win this game with a backup QB or 70% Riley Leonard. Florida State wins, but no cover.

Florida State 27 Duke 17

  • Evenflow58 (Season record: 5-0)

I think Riley Leonard is a good quarterback but I think people are over valuing him and his health. I also think people are undervaluing Duke as a team. I feel like this game is close at the half and low scoring (something like 10-7 either way) but I think FSU will eventually wear out Duke in the middle of the 3rd quarter and hit a few chunk plays to put this game away. I feel like the defense has turned a corner and I don’t know that Duke can drive the field on them, Leonard or not.

Florida State 34 Duke 10

  • Perry Kostidakis (Season record: 6-0)

If you had asked me about this game after FSU’s win over Clemson, I would’ve been significantly more worried — both because we hadn’t fully seen what Florida State could do (and still haven’t, to be fair) and because of what Riley Leonard brings to the table.

Is he going to play? I think even if he does, the lingering mental and physical effects of a hampered ankle might be too much to overcome when faced with the defensive front that FSU brings to the table. Duke’s ability to sustain drives combined with a capable defense is a recipe that does present challenges for FSU, especially if the offense starts to sputter with possessions at a premium, but if the Seminoles want to prove that their for real — on a national stage again, no less — then this is the matchup to make that statement.

FSU pulls ahead early, Duke sneaks back in but FSU separates in the fourth to move to 7-0 for the first time since 2014.

FSU 31, Duke 17

  • Michael Rogner (Lifetime record: Undefeated)

Duke’s about to get smoked.

Florida State Seminoles vs. Duke Blue Devils

Pre-Game Coverage from Tomahawk Nation

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