FSU vs Boston College Preview and Prediction

Florida State opens up conference play with a road trip to Boston College on Saturday… hopefully.

As most of you already know, Hurricane Lee is approaching the northeast and is on track to be in that area on Saturday. As of Thursday morning, the game is still on for its original time. Whether the game gets moved to a different time or not remains to be seen, but it appears weather will be a factor at a minimum. The forecast isn’t terrible as of right now, but a lot depends on the path the storm takes. They are calling for 15-20 mph winds with 25-30 mph gusts which obviously presents a challenge throwing the ball downfield.

The good news for FSU is that they have multiple ways they can attack on offense and we just saw them put up over 300 yards on the ground against Southern Miss.

As for Boston College, they have gotten off to a tough start in what might be a make-or-break year for Head Coach Jeff Hafley. After a disappointing 3-9 season in 2022 that was plagued by offensive line issues, BC already lost their season opener against Northern Illinois and escaped losing to an FCS team in week two.

The NIU loss looks even more painful when you consider they lost the following week to an FCS team that was sub .500 last year. The close call BC had in week two was against Holy Cross. To be fair, they were 12-1 last year with their only loss being to #1 South Dakota State in the FCS playoffs, but it still was not a good look for a Power 5 program.

This Saturday is the Red Bandana game for BC which is a tradition that honors Welles Crowther’s heroic actions on 9/11. BC usually reserves this tradition for their biggest home game of the year and this will be the fourth time FSU has appeared in the game since its inception in 2014. FSU currently holds a 2-1 record in the game and BC is 4-5 overall.

Unless it gets moved, the noon kick should limit the crowd factor, which is normally not a factor at Boston College, but they tend to show up for the Red Bandana game. Florida State is currently a 26-point favorite over the Eagles with an over/under at 48 points, which has come down from the opening line of 28.5-point favorites and an O/U of 56.5 which is in large part due to the potential for bad weather.

The BC offense had a rough year in 2022 which stemmed heavily from offensive line issues. They only had 4 combined starts coming into last year. This year that jumped to 137, so I expected them to be much better. However, they lost Zay Flowers who was THE guy for that offense, and have struggled to find someone to replace his production.

At quarterback, Emmet Morehead stepped in for Phil Jurkovec last year and started the final 4 games. He threw for over 250 yards in three of the final 4 games and led them to a win over NC State. All signs pointed to him being the starter this year.

However, they added dual-threat transfer Thomas Castellanos from Central Florida who has taken over the starting role. BC will use both quarterbacks as Morehead is the better pure passer of the two.

Watching the film, Castellanos has wheels and can make people miss, so his dual-threat ability will be something to watch in this game. He actually leads the team in rushing currently. I like that FSU has already faced one of the better running quarterbacks in the country in game one against Jayden Daniels.

Castellanos did not have a great game against North Illinois. He finished with a 46.4% completion percentage, 138 yards (4.9 YPA), 2 touchdowns, and 1 Interception. However, it was his first game and he did improve in week 2, although it was against an FCS team. His completion percentage climbed to 73.9% (8.7 YPA), 201 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Morehead only has 10 attempts this season, but the numbers aren’t good, 40% completion percentage, 3.0 YPA, and 0 touchdowns.

If the wind and rain cause this game to be heavily slated towards the run, I’m not sure that we even see Morehead in this one. While Castellanos has improved from game one to game two, the level of competition is going to be significantly tougher in this game.

At running back, they still have Pat Garwo III who was a 1k-yard rusher in the past but has gotten off to a slow start this year. Kye Robichaux is the leading rusher at the running back position with 99 yards and averaging 5.0 YPC. He’s a bigger back at 6 feet tall and weighing in at 216 pounds.

At receiver, the Eagles brought in Ryan O’Keefe from Central Florida to try and replace Flowers, but so far the production has not been there. Of course, quarterback play is certainly a factor here. When I watched the NIU film, Castellanos missed on a majority of passes downfield by 10-20 yards in some cases.

O’Keefe has not crossed the 50-yard mark in a game this season. Jaden Williams leads BC in receiving with 105 yards and 1 touchdown. The receiver room as a whole just lacks talent. They have a 57.6% reception percentage and are only 2 for 6 on contested catches against bad competition.

I think BC wants this to be a nasty rain game because they have struggled to throw the ball and their identity is a running team. While their offense has marginally improved through two games, they haven’t faced a defense anywhere close to what FSU is bringing to town.

Here’s a look at some stats for the BC offense vs. the FSU defense.

Unfortunately for BC, their defense might be the issue this year. Looking at the NIU game, BC allowed 27 points and 166 rushing yards to a team that scored just 11 points and rushed for only 63 yards the following week against a bad FCS team.

Holy Cross ran through the BC defense for 267 yards and averaged 6.8 YPC. They broke off runs of 35 and 45 yards and had an incredible 26% explosive play rate! Florida State ran for 135 yards against a much better defense in LSU and then backed that up with a 306-yard performance against Southern Miss averaging over 8 yards per carry.

BC is currently allowing 217 yards per game on the ground and FSU is averaging 220, so if this is a run-heavy rain game that’s a big advantage for FSU. We also know FSU has a deep stable of talented backs and depth on the offensive line, so they can keep fresh legs in for the majority of the game.

The BC defense has been better at limiting the pass, allowing just 151 passing yards per game, which is Top 25. However, that has a lot to do with the competition. When I watched the NIU game there were plenty of opportunities. BC played soft coverage and the NIU receivers just didn’t make a lot happen in space. There were also some one-on-one matchups that the NIU quarterback just missed on the throw.

If the weather allows FSU to throw it, I don’t think BC has an answer for these receivers. (Pending they catch the ball…) BC has also struggled to generate sacks with only 2 this season (106th), which is surprising as they have an All-ACC defensive end in Donovan Ezeiruaku.

Florida State should be able to keep the streak of games with over 35 points going in this one, but I did adjust my score prediction down some because of the weather. I still think the FSU offense will have a very successful day rain or shine. Here’s a look at some stats for the FSU offense vs. the BC defense.

Florida State is a 26-point favorite for a reason. They have a talent edge, and a coaching edge and beat BC last year by 30 points. They should win this game, and by a lot. However, bad weather can sometimes do crazy things in a football game whether it be players losing their footing which can create or kill a potential big play and it can also lead to turnovers.

Boston College has been penalized 20 times in their first two games, so they haven’t been the most disciplined team either. Mike Norvell talks a lot about things being “just about us” and that seems the case in this game. If FSU can play a clean game and limit mistakes that would allow BC to hang around, I think they win comfortably and cover the spread. The weather could be an issue, but a team from Florida is no stranger to rain or hurricanes.

My keys to victory in this one are,
1) Set the tone early
2) Limit Mistakes
3) Establish the run

Do those things and I think FSU easily comes away 1-0 in conference play as they turn their focus to a big matchup with Clemson next week. Even at number 3 and with all the momentum, they cannot sleepwalk through this game. However, with the focus and intensity we’ve seen from Mike Norvell this season, I don’t expect that to be the case.

As I said previously, I did adjust my score total down some with the weather in mind, but I still have FSU winning 42-13. If the sun is out and the weather is nice, buckle up BC, because it’s going to be a long day. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!!

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