WINNERSANDWHINERS The Florida State Seminoles will travel on the road to Alumni Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they get set to wind down the conference season with an ACC tilt against the Boston College Eagles.
After yet another disappointing loss, Florida State finally made the costly decision to move on from head coach Willie Taggart, who finishes his career in Tallahassee with a 9-12 overall record. The buyout cost the Seminoles a whopping $22 million, who saw no advantage in waiting to fire Taggart and will move on without him for the final three games of the season. At 4-5 (3-4 ACC), Florida State needs to win two of their final three games to salvage the season and qualify for a bowl game. Can the Seminoles make a late-season run beginning this weekend on the road against Boston College?
Florida State finally fires Willie Taggart
The Seminoles lost for the third time in four games against in-state rival Miami 27-10 last week, which prompted the premature end of the Willie Taggart-era at Florida State. The offense stalled behind graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook, who completed 17-of-24 for only 135 yards with one touchdown and one interception on the day. The Miami defense got to the quarterback a season-high nine times last week while holding FSU running back Cam Akers to only 66 yards on 3.0 yards per carry. The Seminoles mustered just 203 yards of total offense and turned the ball over twice in the loss.
Florida State has already named Odell Haggins as the interim head coach while the Seminoles find a permanent replacement. A few big names have already popped up in the discussion about potential successors, including former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Haggins also served as the interim head coach for two games following the departure of former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher in 2017.
He led an inspired run as the interim head coach that year, leading the Seminoles to a bowl game appearance and an Independence Bowl victory over Southern Mississippi. To repeat the feat this season, Florida State will have to win a game on the road for the first time this season. They play Boston College this weekend before wrapping up the season with a tough matchup on the road against No.10-ranked Florida with a cupcake home game against Alabama State sandwiched in between.
Florida State has been bouncing back-and-forth between Hornibrook and James Blackman for the last few weeks and it will be interesting to see who starts under center on Saturday. The Seminoles come into the week scoring 27.2 points per game and averaging 393.2 yards of total offense per contest. On defense, they have given up 28.8 points per game and 434.1 yards per game, including 154.7 yards per game on the ground.
Dillon moves to No.2 in rushing after big game vs. Syracuse
Boston College trounced Syracuse 59-27 last week to move to 5-4 on the season and get back to .500 (3-3) in ACC play. Dennis Grosel completed 8-of-10 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns while the Eagles racked up a season-high 495 yards on the ground in the win. Senior running back A.J. Dillon ran the ball 35 times for 242 yards and three scores while David Bailey added 172 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win. All in all, Boston College set a school record with 691 yards of total offense and their rushing total came just 22 yards shy of BC’s all-time mark set 46 years ago at UMass.
Dillon now ranks second nationally with 1,286 rushing yards and he has 14 total touchdowns through nine games. The junior running back has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons at Boston College and is averaging a career-high 5.5 yards per carry in 2019. As a team, Boston College ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game at 282.3 per contest.
The Eagles need just one win to qualify for a bowl game and they catch Florida State at an opportune time following the firing of head coach Willie Taggart.
A former walk-on, Grosel has been thrust into the starting role and had his best game of the season last week. For the season, he’s completing just 41.4 percent of his passes, which has hurt the Eagles at times. But Grosel has been able to deliver big plays under center and delivered two touchdowns of over 50 yards last week. He leads an offense scoring 34.1 points game averaging 481 yards of total offense so far this season.
On defense, the Eagles come in allowing 31.4 points per game and 482.8 yards of total offense, including 185.3 yards per game on the ground.
Boston College comes into the week favored by only 2.5 in this game. Florida State is in disarray right now, and while the Taggart firing wasn’t at all surprising, it is hard to see them bouncing back down the stretch of the season. The Seminoles have struggled to stop the run at times this season and they will be up against one of the top rushing offenses in the country. Boston College rumbled their way to 496 rushing yards against Syracuse last week and they have one of the best running backs in the country in A.J. Dillon, who is second in the nation in rushing. While they have a walk-on under center, Grosel looked better last week and has shown a willingness to throw the ball downfield. Take the Eagles to cover the spread at home in this ACC tilt on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Boston College -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams have stayed under the projected total in four of their last five meetings. Florida State’s offense looked dysfunctional with Hornibrook under center last week and the Eagles are starting a former walk-on who is completing 41.4 percent of his passes for the season. While I expect Boston College to be able to move the ball in this game, the total (62) seems a bit high in this spot. Take the under in this ACC battle on Saturday.
Prediction: Under 62
Written By Nick Raffoul
Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.