FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (8-1)
at VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES (4-5)
Kickoff: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Florida State -14, Total: 51.5
Virginia Tech looks for a signature victory during a miserable season when it hosts No. 10 Florida State on Thursday night.
These teams last met in the 2010 ACC Championship when Virginia Tech won 44-33. That was just the second series loss (13-2 SU) for Florida State since 1976. This season, the Seminoles are 0-3 ATS on the road, scoring just 26.3 PPG, compared to 54.0 PPG in six home games. Virginia Tech has dropped four of five (SU and ATS), but all four losses have been on the road, including a 30-12 thrashing at Miami last Thursday. But since losing to James Madison in 2010, the Hokies are 15-1 SU (8-8 ATS) in their past 16 home games.
Can the Hokies pull off the upset over heavily-favored FSU? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Seminoles QB EJ Manuel had a strong outing when he lost to Va. Tech in the conference title game two years ago, completing 23-of-31 passes for 288 yards and 1 TD, but also throwing a pair of interceptions. He currently ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency, completing 70% of his passes for 2,315 yards (10.1 YPA), 16 TD and 4 INT. In last week's 48-7 shellacking of Duke, he threw for 282 yards and 2 TD despite completing just eight passes. The running game suffered a major loss two weeks ago when top RB Chris Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury. However, FSU was still able to gallop for 261 yards against the Blue Devils, led by Devonta Freeman's 104 rushing yards (8.7 YPC) and 2 TD with James Wilder Jr. adding 70 yards and another score. The 'Noles lead the country in total defense (227 YPG allowed) while ranking among the top-four FBS schools in scoring defense (12.0 PPG), rushing defense (73 YPG) and passing defense (154 YPG). Florida State also has a great return game, placing among the top-10 in the nation in both kickoff returns (28.8 average) and punt returns (16.0 average).
Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas has not faced FSU in his career, and considering how poorly he's played lately (12 INT in past seven games), this is not a good matchup for him. Despite the miscues, Thomas has topped 300 total yards in four straight weeks, rushing for 223 yards and 2 TD over the past two contests. For the Hokies to hang around in this game, either or both of RBs Michael Holmes (282 rush yds, 4 TD) and J.C. Coleman (361 yds, 2 TD) need to power through the few holes they'll get against FSU's tough defense. Virginia Tech's defense is solid in both total defense (368 YPG) and scoring defense (24.7 PPG), especially at home where the Hokies have allowed just 44 points over four games. They need to take more risks to create turnovers though, as they have just five takeaways in their five losses this season.