Winners and Whiners Preview – Florida State really needs a win today against Syracuse.

By Blake Von Hagen

Florida State will be hoping to put an end to its disastrous start to the season when it hosts Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. The Orange are entering ACC play with a 3-1 record, including a 24-21 win over Liberty last weekend. Florida State fell to 0-4 on the year with a 31-23 loss to Louisville in its last game.

Shrader replaces DeVito as starting quarterback

Syracuse will go on the road for the first time since its season opener, where it picked up a 29-9 win at Ohio. The Orange were unable to back that win up, falling in a 17-7 final against Rutgers in Week 2. They bounced back with a 62-24 win over Albany the following week before playing their most thrilling game of the young season last Friday. Syracuse jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held a 21-7 advantage early in the third quarter. Liberty responded with consecutive touchdowns to tie the contest at 21-21 at the beginning of the fourth. Syracuse would get the last laugh, as kicker Andre Szmyt nailed a 35-yard field goal as time expired.

The Orange have a tough schedule to open conference play, facing No. 24 Wake Forest and No. 25 Clemson in their next two games after this one. Two-year starting quarterback Tommy DeVito started the first three games this year, but Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader took over last week. The redshirt sophomore completed just 6 of 15 attempts for 77 yards. He also saw action in the first three games—the coaching staff has not announced a starter for this game. Freshman running back Sean Tucker has had a breakout campaign, rushing 83 times for 536 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 169 yards on 32 attempts against Liberty, so he is certainly going to be the focus of the offense on Saturday.

Seminoles looking to end skid

Florida State continues to struggle to crawl out of irrelevancy that has haunted the program over the last few seasons. The Seminoles opened the year with a highly entertaining contest against No. 9 Notre Dame on Labor Day weekend, taking the Fighting Irish to overtime before eventually losing 41-38. Many experts wondered if that performance was a sign that Florida State was back—well, they are not. The Seminoles entered their Week 2 game against Jacksonville State as 27.5-point favorites, but they were upset on a crazy touchdown on the game’s final play. Things have not improved since then, as Wake Forest picked up a 35-14 blowout over Florida State in the third game of the year.

The Seminoles’ hangover continued last week, as Louisville flew out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and eventually led 31-7 in the second quarter—the game ended in a 31-23 final. Florida State’s offense is led by former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, who missed two years of action after an injury. He has completed 62.4% of his pass attempts for 548 yards and two touchdowns. Turnovers have been an issue, as he has thrown four interceptions. Sophomore running back Jashaun Corbin leads the rushing attack with 48 carries for 439 yards and three touchdowns, averaging a ridiculous 9.1 yards per carry. He had 11 attempts for 159 yards and a score against Louisville. Junior wide receiver Ontaria Wilson has caught nine passes for 133 yards.

This is the kind of spot where I love to back the underdog and live with the results. Florida State has gotten used to losing over the last few seasons and things are worse than they have ever been right now. The Seminoles have not been able to respond after losing the nail-biter against Notre Dame to open the season. They are going to be facing a motivated and hungry Syracuse squad on Saturday, which is the last thing they want to see. The Orange have not fared well against Florida State in the past, so they will be wanting to spring the upset. They are off to a nice start this season and have covered in five of their last six games.Prediction: Syracuse +4.5

Written By Blake Von Hagen , “Blake V.”

Blake is a lifelong sports fan and hoops junkie. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners and StatSalt, Blake worked for several newspapers and websites. He enjoys combining his beat writing expertise with the knack for finding the winning edge in a matchup. Blake is also an avid sports being expert and you would not be disappointed in following him on a daily basis. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.