Boston College’s penultimate game of the season will come against the Florida State Seminoles in Chestnut Hill on Saturday November 20th. FSU is a bit of mystery this year, so let’s take a look at how they may be shaping up against BC:
- Florida State went 3-6 last year, 2-6 in the ACC, which was their worst overall win% since they went 1-10 as an independent in 1974.
- BC is 5-12 all-time against FSU. The Seminoles are currently on a 2-game win streak dating back to the 2018 heartbreaker game that kicked BC out of their most recent stint in the top-25.
- FSU is 12-20 against the ACC since 2017
- Florida State’s standing for 2021 in ESPN’s FPI is 5.1, good enough for 44th out of 130 FBS teams and a 6-6 record. For reference, BC’s 2021 preseason FPI is 3.8 (50th place) and an expected 7-5 record. ESPN’s FPI gives Boston College a 57% chance to win.
Mike Norvell has just 1 season under his belt in Tallahassee, and it wasn’t a pretty one. FSU missed out on a bowl game bid for just the 2nd time since 1981 and struggled mightily against most competition. Norvell’s team got beat by ACC competition by at least 16 points more times (5) than FSU even scored 16 points total (4). That’s pretty disappointing for a coach who bases his offensive scheme around the explosiveness of his superior talent, of which FSU has plenty compared to most of the ACC. They did manage a big upset against UNC last year, but they also lost to 3-7 Georgia Tech and 4-7 Louisville, so it’s all a wash.
A full year of development (with less COVID complications) for a new coach should be helpful, as we expect the same at BC with Jeff Hafley, so the Seminoles shouldn’t be nearly as abysmal this season. But this year will be a big test for Norvell to see if he’s truly up to the task of coaching a big-time program like FSU. Remember that Hafley was even able to improve BC’s ACC record post-Daz, while Norvell’s team actually got worse than what it was under former coach Willie Taggart.
FSU’s OL, at this point, is famously bad. FSU got their QB sacked 3.4 times per game last year, which was good for 114th out of 127 teams that played a season last year and 7th-worst in the P5. Their passing attack was terrible as a result, and the running game wasn’t much better. All 5 OL starters are back this year, which may help with development and consistency, but it’s still very much a work in progress.
The name to watch at QB is McKenzie Milton. He’s a former UCF QB who led them to 2 undefeated seasons before suffering a terrible leg injury at the end of the 2018 campaign. Milton could be a very good leader for this Seminole squad and raise the QB play to where it hasn’t been since the likes of Jameis Winston, but Milton could also struggle to come back from injury or even play consistent minutes at FSU. Jordan Travis is their other QB, their starter from last year, who led FSU in both passing and rushing last season.
FSU’s defense was also very bad last year. They got the least sacks in the ACC, allowed a whopping 36 PPG, and only made 8 INTs on the year. They have a few transfers coming in, mostly in the defensive backfield, but they also lost safety Jaiden Lars-Woodbey to Boston College and CB Asante Samuel Jr. to the Los Angeles Chargers. There aren’t a ton of signs of improvement for this defense other than the opportunity for an offseason with less COVID and more time with their new coach. FSU has got to hope that their returning production is good enough to start a decent improvement.
A lot of this rests on McKenzie Milton’s shoulders. Will he be healthy and performing well by the end of the season when BC and FSU face-off? It’s a huge question mark, and reports from preseason camp don’t look good when Milton is already having to take less of a regular workload. Milton has the potential to be an all-ACC type player if he’s healthy and firing on all cylinders, but I’m just not confident he’ll be doing so by the end of November.
I’m going to say FSU gets better this year and probably ends up as a bowl team. They’ll be competitive with BC, but the Eagles’ offensive depth will last them the whole season much better than FSU’s roster. This late November match-up will benefit the better-constructed and better-coached team as the season winds down and BC is fighting for a good bowl placement.
Preseason score prediction: Boston College 31, Florida State 24