Just like how it’s been all season long, Florida State is coming into a matchup against a team whose win-loss record is not as good as theirs. In fact, that’s been the story for the past two years. Florida State hasn’t lost a game since 2012, yet somehow they are marching into Pasadena to play the Ducks as a 9.5 point underdog.
The thing that the Seminoles have to overcome is that their schedule, compared to that of the Ducks, is much weaker. In fact, besides beating Auburn in the National Championship last year, FSU hasn’t really played a team that could have competed with the top three teams the Ducks played this year. Nevertheless, FSU believes they can and will win. So, what will it take?
- Fast Start, Tough D
Too many times this year FSU has needed to fight back in the second half, or even the fourth quarter, to overcome a multiple touchdown deficit in order to pull out a close win. The Ducks often strike first with their historically efficient offense. If FSU is going to stand a chance against the Ducks, they will have to play stingy D in the first quarter, and Jameis Winston will need to lead the Seminoles to at least one touchdown drive. If FSU gets behind early, they’ll learn quickly that the Ducks are a much different beast when they try to catch up.
- Winston Can’t Make Mistakes
Last year, Winston won the Heisman after throwing for 40 touchdowns and he had only ten interceptions. This year, he threw for only 24 TD’s but saw his Int numbers climb to 17. Winston has been especially bad in the first half, including a game against Florida where he threw three first half picks. If FSU is going to keep up with the Ducks’ high octane offense, Winston is going to have to be perfect. The Ducks’ D might not be the best, but one thing they’ve done all season is create timely turnovers.
- Dalvin Cook Will Have to Have the Biggest Game of His Career
Winston doesn’t look like himself this season and outside of Nick O’Leary and Rashad Greene (both of whom the Ducks will be keying on), FSU doesn’t have that many weapons in their passing attack. FSU thrives off the play action, but Dalvin Cook will need to both run hard and fast if FSU expects to do that. A balanced attack is the key to overcoming the Ducks, as seen by Arizona’s game plan when they handed the Ducks their lone loss of the season.
Top photo from video