There will be a trophy on the line, not to mention implications inside the ACC as the no. 25 Virginia Cavaliers play host to the Florida State Seminoles. Kickoff is set for 7:30 EST on Saturday, September 14 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fans can watch the game on the ACC Network.
Virginia is currently listed as a 7.5-point favorite over Florida State. The game has an over/under of 56 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s college football betting odds.
After a disastrous 2018 season that saw the Seminoles miss a bowl game, things aren’t getting much better for Florida State in Willie Taggart’s second season in Tallahassee. The Seminoles lost their season opener to Boise State despite sprinting out to a 24-6 lead early in the second quarter. FSU blew another lead last week, leading Louisiana-Monroe 24-7 at halftime, only to go to overtime tied at 38. The ‘Noles escaped with an overtime win but only because ULM missed an extra point.
In other words, there’s not a lot of confidence in the FSU fanbase these days. The Seminoles now begin an ACC schedule that doesn’t have many easy games, especially with Virginia and Miami being their crossover games. Unlike the old days, going to a bowl game is far from a guarantee from Florida State. On the bright side, they can turn things around and give the fanbase something to be excited about if they can get a road win against Virginia.
Of course, the Cavaliers are showing no signs of slowing down after last year’s 8-5 campaign. Virginia scored an ACC road win against Pitt in their opener and took care of business against FCS foe William & Mary last week to start the year 2-0.
Bronco Mendenhall’s team is hoping to compete for the Coastal division title this year and is arguably the favorite to win the ACC’s weaker division. However, a home game against Florida State could be one of their more difficult conference games this season. On the other hand, they have a chance to start out 2-0 in the ACC and get a big leg up in the Coastal division race.
Virginia and Florida State have a rather unique rivalry. They play for the Jefferson-Eppes Trophy, which is named for the University of Virginia founder Thomas Jefferson and his grandson Francis Eppes, who served two terms as the mayor of Tallahassee. However, the two schools rarely meet now that they play in different divisions within the ACC. The last meeting was a 34-20 win for FSU in 2014. In fact, Virginia has just three all-time wins over Florida State in 17 meetings.
History be damned because I’m going to lean toward Virginia to win and cover against Florida State. Admittedly, Florida State has been a great first half team this season. But I don’t think they’ll jump out to a big lead against Virginia the way they have against other teams. Virginia is a legitimate top-25 team, and I think they’ll take care of business at home.
The one concern I have with Virginia having to cover more than a touchdown is that they don’t have an explosive offense. They have to find a way to sustain drives and finish them in the end zone. But quarterback Bryce Perkins can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s arguably most dangerous with his legs, but he’s also a competent passer.
I don’t mind taking a chance on the Virginia offense in part because the FSU defense has struggled this year. They’ve utterly collapsed in the second half of both their games without a good excuse. Boise State was playing a freshman at quarterback making his first start and Louisiana-Monroe is a mid-level Sun Belt team. Neither should have been able to have sustained success against FSU’s defense. But both ended up racking up the rushing yards and scored plenty of points. If Virginia can run the ball the way Boise State did, I’m confident in the Cavs winning by a comfortable margin.
The saving grace for Florida State is that they’ve also been able to score points early in the year. Running back Cam Akers could be a Heisman contender if the FSU offensive line gives him enough running room. However, quarterback James Blackman has already been sacked six times in two games and threw two interceptions against Louisiana-Monroe.
Moreover, the Cavaliers have the kind of defense that could stifle the Florida State running game, much like they did against Pitt in the season opener. It’s safe to say that Virginia has more talent on that side of the ball than either team the Seminoles have faced this year. I can see the FSU offense struggling to get going, especially on the road.
Based on Florida State the last couple of weeks, I think Florida State will keep the game close in the first half by fade after halftime. I think the Cavs are poised to win at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That should eventually lead to a double-digit win that covers the spread.