Boston College - Florida State Matchup

Boston College (5-1) and Florida State (4-2) will meet on Saturday in a crucial ACC Atlantic Division battle. The Eagles, who are coming off their most impressive game of the year, will look to avenge last year's 28-17 loss to the Seminoles in Chestnut Hill. Florida State is struggling by their lofty standards. The Noles are currently in fifth place in the ACC Atlantic and only 5-6 in their last eleven games dating back to last season. FSU was impressive last week in a 51-24 victory over Duke. The key to the game may very well be Matt Ryan. BC's junior quarterback is now suffering from both foot and ankle problems and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game.

The Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan -- 59.5% comp, 1,399 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT
Drew Weatherford -- 61.1% comp, 1,195 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT

Top Rushers
L.V. Whitworth -- 381 yards, 4.3 ypc, 1 TD
  Andre Callender -- 296 yards, 4.3 ypc, 1 TD
Antone Smith -- 309 yards, 5.9 ypc, 3 TD
  Lorenzo Booker -- 278 yards, 4.7 ypc, 1 TD

Top Receivers
Kevin Challenger (WR) -- 24 catches, 281 yards, 4 TD
  Tony Gonzalez (WR) -- 22 catches, 241 yards, 4 TD
  Brandon Robinson (WR) -- 14 catches, 196 yards, 0 TD
De'Cody Fagg (WR) -- 24 catches, 286 yards, 1 TD
  Greg Carr (WR) -- 14 catches, 268 yards, 6 TD
  Chris Davis (WR) -- 13 catches, 189 yards, 2 TD

Top Defenders
Jolonn Dunbar (LB) -- 47 tackles, 1 forced fumble
  Jamie Silva (FS) -- 30 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 INT
  DeJuan Tribble (CB) -- 23 tackles, 2 INT, 5 passes broken up
Buster Davis (LB) -- 57 tackles, 4 for lost yardage
  Geno Hayes (LB) -- 29 tackles, 3 sacks
  Lawrence Timmons (LB) -- 26 tackles, 2 sacks

The Kickers
Steve Aponavicius -- 2/2 FG, 2/2 PAT
Gary Cismesia -- 8/9 FG, 19/20 PAT

The Punters
Johnny Ayers -- 40.9 yards per punt
Graham Gano -- 39.2 yards per punt

The Kick Returners
Jeff Smith -- 34.1 per KO return
DeJuan Tribble -- 5.9 per punt return
Joslin Shaw -- 19.2 yards per KO ret
Chris Davis -- 6.6 yards per punt return

Final Analysis

If Matt Ryan plays on Saturday, I believe we'll see yet another ACC Atlantic Division game decided in the final five minutes. Statistically, BC and Florida State are fairly similar. The BC offense is ranked 82nd nationally on the ground and 33rd through the air. FSU's rankings in those areas are 84th and 34th. Matt Ryan and Drew Weatherford both have thrown for 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. BC's top receiver, Kevin Challenger, has 24 receptions for 281 yards. FSU's top pass catcher, De'Cody Fagg, has 24 receptions for 286 yards. Defensively, both Boston College and Florida State have been strong against the run (FSU is ranked 11th in the nation, BC is 22nd). The main statistical difference lies in the pass defense. FSU's ranking is a mediocre 53rd while BC's ranking is a miserable 102nd.

There are a few areas where BC appears to have the advantage. The Eagles have sacked opposing quarterbacks 14 times this season while only being sacked 6 times. Florida State has the same number of sacks as sacks allowed (10). The Seminoles have been penalized 2 more times per game than the Eagles (FSU ranks 12th in the nation in penalties per game). Florida State ranks 101st in the nation in opponent kickoff return average (BC ranks 7th in kickoff return average). On the other side of the coin, Florida State kicker Gary Cismesia has made 8 of 9 field goal attempts this season and 32 of 42 in his career (76%). Boston College kicker Steve Aponavicius is a walk-on who will be playing in only his second game (Ryan Ohliger will be back in uniform and will handle the kickoffs).

Whether Matt Ryan plays or not, the Eagles are going to have to establish a running attack. If Ryan plays, his mobility will be limited so the Eagles will want to reduce the number of times he is forced to run around in, or out of, the pocket. If Chris Crane is forced into action, the Eagles will need to run the ball effectively to avoid putting the inexperienced sophomore in difficult third and long situations. The tight ends are going to have to play a larger role for BC.

It will be very interesting to see how the Eagles play on the defensive side of the ball. After looking terrible for most of the early season, the BC defense was dominant in the second half of the Virginia Tech game. It has left me wondering if that effort was an aberration or if this young defense has gelled. I believe it is more the latter. Florida State can be explosive offensively but they haven't shown much of that against good teams this season. The Seminoles have averaged just 242 yards per game and 2.1 yards per carry this season against Miami, Clemson and NC State.

As I mentioned above, special teams is a mixed bag. The statistics tell me that Jeff Smith could break off a big kickoff return or two. Then again, this Bowden is probably smart enough not to kick the ball to the BC speedster. Steve Aponavicius did an outstanding job last week but no one can deny that Florida State has a gigantic advantage in the field goal department. In a game that has a good chance to go down to the wire, that is not good news for BC.

Prediction: Florida State 27 Boston College 24

Florida State Links
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FSU by the Numbers

FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden ranks #1 on the all-time Division 1-A coaching victory list with 362.

FSU was 56-1 at home in the 1990s and 32-7 since 2000.

FSU is 55-3 all-time in ACC games at home, but 1-2 in their last three ACC home games.

Offense - Run 82 84
Offense - Pass 33 34
Offense - Total 56 60
Defense - Run 22 11
Defense - Pass 102 53
Defense - Total 66 20

Offensive Lines
Avg Height 6'4" 6'5"
Avg Weight 306 305