A fire was sparked on the Scout.com message boards this week over Jason Staples’ Know Your Foe piece breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of FSU, Oregon’s last hurdle to clear before the College Football National Championship Game. While Florida State’s strengths are highlighted, the number three seed has plenty to fear with their 29-game-winning streak on the line against the Ducks on Jan. 1.
We have watched FSU come back from the brink of defeat to save their winning streak many times this season. The pressure will be on against a punishing Ducks’ offense to establish their presence right away. Second half adjustments have been a common theme for both the Seminoles and Ducks this year but in largely different ways. Oregon’s second half schemes have consisted of finding the best way to shut the door on a game while FSU has had to work on fighting back to stay relevant.
Talented but young defensive backs are storylines for both teams as well. With Ifo Ekpre-Olomu ruled out for the rest of the season the Ducks will rely on younger players as will FSU who is sporting a single senior in their regular defensive rotation. Duck fans are well aware, however, that youth does not mean an easy match-up. The FSU secondary is led by sophomore Jalen Ramsey who has 76 tackles, three interceptions and three sacks on the year.
As big and strong as the FSU defense is, even Staples is seeing a major problem for the ‘Noles in the form of Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. The FSU secondary is talented but inconsistent, not a trait that will help stop the best player in college football. Mariota’s ability to get the ball downfield is not their only concern; with 117 rushes for 669 yards and 14 touchdowns FSU will have to worry about his legs as well. In order to counter the speed and athleticism of Florida State’s secondary, keep an eye out for Oregon’s athletic receivers in Devon Allen (41 rec. for 284 yards and seven TD) and Byron Marshall (61 rec. for 814 yards and five TD).
The Seminoles are the defending national champions and are currently riding a 29-game-winning streak led by a quarterback who has never lost in his college career. Despite FSU struggling to keep their streak alive, the pressure has seemed to bend but not break a team determined to show the country they are as good as their record professes. Similarly, the Ducks are looking to shake any notion of being a “soft” team by putting an end to the ‘Nole’s streak en route to the National Championship Game.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove