2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 7 - Florida State at Duke
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Oct. 15 Florida State 41 … at Duke 16
CFN Analysis: It might have only been a win over Duke, but the Noles needed to beat up on someone. E.J. Manuel took control of the offense again and got the deep ball going, while the defense never let the game get interesting, keeping the Blue Devils out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. Manuel ran well, and Devonta Freeman had a nice day balancing things out with 109 rushing yards and a score, but the defense was the big key with a terrific pass rush killing the Duke passing game and keeping the game from getting interesting. Was this the confidence-builder needed going forward? With home games against Maryland and NC State up next, and four of the next five games at home, only Miami should provide a challenge the rest of the ACC season if the Noles can keep playing this well.
Duke faced a desperate Florida State team that needed to come up with a great performance to show that it could. The offensive line that’s been so great all season long in pass protection couldn’t handle the speed and the athleticism of the Seminole defensive front, and there wasn’t any running game to rely on in the first half when the defense was giving up points in bunches. Sean Renfree spread the ball around well when he had time, with ten different receivers catching passes, but Duke just didn’t have the firepower to keep up. With Wake Forest and Virginia Tech coming up next, the home slate doesn’t get any easier.
(AP) DURHAM, N.C. -- EJ Manuel threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns to help Florida State beat Duke 41-16 on Saturday, giving the Seminoles their first win in a month.
Manuel had three completions of at least 50 yards in the first quarter, including a perfectly thrown 50-yard scoring toss deep over the middle to Rodney Smith. Manuel followed with a 51-yard throw out of his own end zone to Kenny Shaw on the next drive, which ended with Devonta Freeman's 10-yard touchdown run that helped the Seminoles (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) jump ahead 24-3, barely a minute into the second quarter.
Florida State had no trouble holding that lead, snapping a three-game losing streak with its first victory since a 62-10 romp over Charleston Southern on Sept. 10. The Seminoles also improved to 17-0 all-time against the Blue Devils (3-3, 1-1).
Duke had won three straight games to build some optimism in David Cutcliffe's fourth season. But this game ended up looking a lot like every other trip the Seminoles have made to Wallace Wade Stadium since joining the ACC two decades ago -- with the Blue Devils failing to make it to the end zone until the fourth quarter when the outcome was all but decided.
Manuel also ran for 62 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 3-yard scoring pass to Nick O'Leary midway through the third quarter gave Florida State its largest lead at 34-3, then he answered a pair of touchdowns from the Blue Devils by scoring on a 6-yard keeper with 9:49 left. That made it 41-16, giving the Seminoles at least 40 points in all seven trips to Durham.
Strange as it sounds, FSU desperately needed to beat Duke to regroup. The Seminoles entered the year with hopes of contending for a national championship only to see them dashed by the end of September.
They beat overmatched opponents in their first two games and stood at No. 5 nationally heading into a home game with then-No. 1 Oklahoma. But Manuel sprained his left shoulder in the third quarter of that 23-13 loss, then missed the loss at Clemson before returning after the off week as a reserve at Wake Forest.
Manuel completed 19 of 35 throws for 286 yards and two scores, but he threw two interceptions as part of the Seminoles' five turnovers in last week's 35-30 loss that dropped them out of the rankings.
At least now Florida State has a conference win to build on.
Florida State (2-3) at Duke (3-2) Oct. 15, 3:00, RSN
Here’s The Deal … Through five games, Duke has a better record than Florida State. Yup, it’s been an extremely unpredictable start to the season in the ACC. The heavy preseason favorites to win the league title, the Seminoles have instead devolved into one of the nation’s biggest disappointments. When the ‘Noles fell to Oklahoma and Clemson in consecutive weeks, it was explained as the product of injuries and a rugged September draw.
When they lost to Wake Forest last Saturday, 35-30, the entire tenor of the season changed to one of desperation. Looking to capitalize on Florida State’s recent misfortunate is Duke, which exits its bye week confident and hungry. The Blue Devils built a three-game winning streak before the break, but none of their victims will be appearing in the Top 25—or Top 50 for that matter—anytime soon. If, however, they can topple the Seminoles for the first time in 17 tries, a long-awaited postseason return will begin to come into focus.
Why Florida State Might Win: It’s often tough for the Seminoles to get up for trips to Durham, but not this year. They’ll perform with a sense of surgery and a sense that jobs on the two-deep could be at stake. The Blue Devils are not a very good defensive team, especially when the ball is in the air. Florida State QB E.J. Manuel is expected to be closer to full strength from the shoulder injury that prevented him from starting last week’s game. The nation’s 13th-ranked passing attack will continue to go Green (or Greene). The receiving tandem of true freshman Rashad Greene and redshirt freshman Christian Green will cause all kinds of problems for a suspect Duke secondary. Greene is on the fast track to the Freshman All-American Team, becoming the first ‘Noles player in nine years to catch a touchdown pass in five straight games.
Why Duke Might Win: The Florida State D has been a microcosm for the program’s problems in the first half. It gets called for too many penalties, is tied with Duke for the fewest takeaways in the ACC and has been brutal against the pass the last two games. The latter is where the Blue Devils hope to exploit their visitors. Duke, like the Seminoles, has been monotone offensively, ranking 16th in the country through the air and 107th on the ground. Head coach David Cutcliffe will lean on his veteran quarterback, Sean Renfree, to keep the ‘Noles reeling. He’s been at his best during the winning streak, leveraging the talent of top receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner.
What To Watch Out For: The Seminoles can’t continue to rank last in the ACC in rushing, and expect to rally back to respectability in 2011. It’s just not possible. Complicating matters are the season-ending injuries to their top back, Chris Thompson, and top blocker, Andrew Datko. Florida State has options in the absence of Thompson, but must decide on a pecking order beginning this weekend. Veterans Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones, and rookies James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman are all in the mix, with the latter pair needing to prove they can pick up the blitz as well as they carry the ball.
What Will Happen: This is where the madness stops, right? Florida State is in trouble, and isn’t the team many felt it was before the opener, but it can’t possibly lose for the first time in school history to Duke. The Seminoles will operate with a chip on their shoulders for all 60 minutes, bullying the Blue Devils around the field. The stars will show up on this day, getting a couple of sacks from DE Brandon Jenkins, and a 300-yard, two-touchdown effort through the air from Manuel.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 37 … Duke 16
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Florida State -13 O/U: 54.5
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