Okay, Willie Taggart. Win this game, the ACC championship, and the College Football Playoff national title …
Okay, okay, there will be a honeymoon period for the Seminoles and their new head coach, but at the same time, this is a program that had legitimate CFP hopes last season and, obviously, failed.
It’s Florida State. The talent is there.
And now it gets to play Virginia Tech for first time since 2012 and just the fifth time since winning the 2005 ACC Championship.
And it’s just the fifth time the two have met since the Noles beat Michael Vick and company for the national title in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Virginia Tech isn’t receiving a whole lot of love or attention on a national scale – considering Clemson has been handed the ACC Championship already by many, Miami is the hot program, and FSU just made the big coaching switch – but Justin Fuente has another good, strong team with the talent to at least get to the ACC title game for the second time in three seasons.
And it gets Miami at home.
Can the Hokies spoil the welcoming party for Taggart? Can FSU look like it’s about to be a powerhouse again? It’s the spotlight Monday night game, and everyone will be watching.
One Reason Why Florida State Will Win
The defensive front has to own the Virginia Tech offensive line.
It’s a decent Hokie line, but it’s not a killer, and it has to prove it can be dominant at times for the ground game. Even with some good backs in place running behind this line, the Hokies have to prove they can consistently crank out yards – they have to get to at least four yards per carry, and that’s not a given.
The Seminole D line isn’t one to go against when you’re trying to figure out your ground attack.
It might lose a few stars, but it’s Florida State – it reloads in a hurry.
With Demarcus Christmas inside and Brian Burns outside leading the way, the line is going to be a killer, even after a relative down year. The pass rush is going to be stronger, and the run defense is going to give up fewer than the 136 yards per game it allowed last year.
It’s going to be all Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson or bust against another FSU secondary full of NFL talents.
One Reason Why Virginia Tech Will Win
The Hokie defense is going to be a crusher, too, after finishing 13th in the nation. It’s going to take a little bit of reworking, but the talent is there. It’s young, but it’s there.
It loses Tremaine Edwards and big-tackler Andrew Motuapuaka from the front, and the secondary has some massive parts missing, but the safeties are fantastic and the line is going to be outstanding.
Good luck getting things going against this run defense, which leads to the game’s biggest question.
If the FSU offensive line going to be any better?
Four starters return, but those are four starters back on a bad line that couldn’t keep defenses out of the backfield. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster and the Hokies have to bring the house from the start until FSU can prove it can stop it.
Virginia Tech allowed just 119 yards per game last year on the ground. If Cam Akers and the FSU running backs don’t have anywhere to go, it’s going to get ugly.
What’s Going To Happen
The place is going to be rocking – at least, it’s going to be rocking as much as Doak Campbell Stadium can.
The national night game, the new head coach, the new era, it’ll all play into the narrative that Florida State is about to become a national thing again.
And then it’ll run into the Virginia Tech defense.
It’s not going to be anything amazing, and neither offense will generate anything positive on a consistent basis – even though FSU starting QB Deondre Francois will be fine – but it’ll be an entertaining battle between two of the ACC’s four best teams.
In the home opener, the Florida State defense will do just a wee bit more in the key spots, but it’ll be tough to pull away. Ricky Aguayo’s third field goal of the game will put the Noles up for good.
Our Fearless Prediction
Florida State 31, Virginia Tech 21
Date: Monday, September 3rd
Game Time: 8:00 pm ET
Venue: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
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