The nation’s longest bowl streak will hang in the balance at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday as Florida State plays host to Boston College. The Seminoles will have to win their final two games to become bowl-eligible for a 37th straight season. With a win, the Eagles will get to eight victories for the first time under head coach Steve Addazio.
Boston College’s chances to win the ACC Atlantic were eliminated at home last week with a 27-7 home loss to Clemson. FSU has been handled in each of the last three weeks, most recently falling at Notre Dame, 42-13. Not only would a loss on Saturday end Florida State’s bowl streak, it would mark the first time since 1976 — the legendary Bobby Bowden’s first season as head coach — that the Seminoles finished with a losing record.
The Eagles snapped a seven-game losing streak to FSU last season with a 35-3 drubbing on a Friday night in Chestnut Hill. FSU won 45-7 in the last meeting between the two schools in Tallahassee two years ago. Boston College hasn’t won in Tallahassee since 2008.
Boston College at Florida State
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Boston College -1.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The running game
The star of the Boston College offense is without question sophomore running back A.J. Dillon. Dillon has missed a pair of games with an injury, but is still just 64 yards shy of hitting the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. Dillon was bottled up on Saturday against Clemson and has been held in check in losses for the Eagles this season. Dillon is a physical runner who should test an FSU defense that has declined as the season has gone on. With quarterback health in question for Saturday, Dillon will certainly be the focal point of the Boston College offense.
Dillon will be facing an FSU rush defense that ranks highly but has been absolutely gashed in recent weeks. The Seminoles allowed 365 yards rushing last week in a loss to Notre Dame, including 97 on one drive. Demarcus Christmas and Marvin Wilson are a stout duo in the middle but outside of Dontavious Jackson, FSU has gotten little production from its linebackers. One of the few positives offensively for FSU last week was that sophomore running back Cam Akers averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored twice. He’ll be facing a Boston College defense that ranks seventh in the ACC against the run.
2. Quarterback play
Florida State’s quarterback situation has garnered headlines over the last few weeks but coming into Saturday’s contest, the focus will be on Boston College’s Anthony Brown. As a sophomore, Brown has made significant strides as a passer but left last week’s game against Clemson early. For the year, Brown has complete 58 percent of his passes for nearly 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. If Brown is unable to go, EJ Perry will likely get the start. Perry has played well in garbage time this season but finished with just 98 yards passing on 21 attempts last week against Clemson.
FSU head coach Willie Taggart announced earlier this week that redshirt junior Deondre Francois will remain the starter for the rest of the season for the Seminoles. Francois ranks seconds in the ACC in passing yards but has been largely inconsistent this season and unsurprisingly has been worse against better competition. Drops played a role last week, but Francois was 23-for-47 passing for 216 yards and an interception against Notre Dame. Francois was put back into the lineup after James Blackman passed for 421 yards and four touchdowns in his absence against NC State.
3. Special teams
The kicking game hasn’t been a particularly strong spot for either Boston College or Florida State this season. Both teams do possess outstanding return men in Michael Walker for the Eagles and D.J. Matthews for the Seminoles. That however, is about where the strengths stop. Boston College has allowed four punts to go for opponent touchdowns this season while FSU has been shoddy in coverage and had a punt blocked for a touchdown in the season-opening loss to Virginia Tech.
Kicker Ricky Aguayo has already missed more field goal attempts this season for FSU than all of last season combined and on eight fewer attempts. In Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame, Aguayo had a blocked extra point returned the other way for two points. Colton Lichtenberg is 5-for-6 on field goal attempts this season for the Eagles, but Boston College has not connected on a kick longer than 38 yards.
Anthony Brown being unavailable would be a significant blow to Boston College, but Notre Dame had little trouble last week against the Seminoles with backup Brandon Wimbush at the helm. After getting gashed three weeks in a row, FSU must be able to stop the run to have a chance. While the bowl streak is on the line, Florida State appears to be a fractured football team at this point in the season and has not handled adversity well at all.
Prediction: Boston College 34, Florida State 20