2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 12, Virginia at Florida State
ACC Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 19 Virginia 14 … at Florida State 13
CFN Analysis: Has any coach had to go through a more grueling final few minutes than Mike London had to endure? It took forever to put the game away, but all’s well that ends well, and now the Cavaliers are on a four game winning streak with a shot at winnng the Coastal with a win over Virginia Tech. … The defense did a great job of getting off the field. FSU came up with yards, but it struggled time and again on third downs. The D dialed up the pressre and the energy when it had to. … Michael Rocco was cool, calm, and collected against the dangerous and aggressive FSU defense. The line gave him decent time, and he came up with a nice day completing 22-of-31 passes for 238 yards and a score. … Steve Greer made eight tackles and two sacks.
It’s official. Florida State’s season is a disappointment. There’s too much talent and too much athleticism to lose four games, and it should’ve been much sharper against a good, but not great Virginia. … Brandon Jenkins was a monster with six sacks and two sacks, and the defense held up against the run, but the offense didn’t help the cause with enough long, sustained drives. … The Noles got the breaks they needed to get late, but the normally reliable Dustin Hopkins didn’t produce in the clutch. A win over a bad Florida team and a bowl victory, though, would once against make FSU the hot team this offseason.
(AP) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It looked as if the game was over. A couple of times, at least. Virginia players and coaches celebrated ... a few times.
In the final 38 seconds, a costly facemask penalty gave Florida State (No. 25 BCS, No. 23 AP) a crucial first down and a replay ruling gave the Seminoles a few extra seconds to attempt a potential game-winning kick.
Still, Virginia escaped the weirdness to upset Florida State 14-13 on Saturday and set up a showdown with rival Virginia Tech next week for a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
The facemask penalty on Virginia' Cam Johnson allowed the Seminoles to convert a fourth down and a pass initially ruled complete in bounds that would have killed the clock was overturned by replay and ruled incomplete with 8 seconds left.
"It was a catch to us," a drained, but exultant Virginia coach Mike London said. "It might be one of the best wins I've been involved with in my whole coaching career."
Florida State's Dustin Hopkins missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt with 3 seconds left.
"I got through it a little too much," Hopkins said afterward.
He was fortunate to have got a shot from 42 yards.
Hopkins was moved up 5 yards for what officials ruled was a "disconcerting signal," from a Cavaliers defender.
It didn't help.
Kevin Parks gave Virginia the one-point lead, by running 10 yards for a touchdown with 1:16 left.
"I have never been involved in a game like that," said London, who was still trying to sort out the chaotic finish.
"I ran off the field a couple of times, thinking the game was over," Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco said. "When everything was going on, I just sat down on one knee and prayed."
It was the second straight week Florida State was involved in a game that featured controversial calls and replay decisions.
But Seminoles' coach Jimbo Fisher said his team made more than enough mistakes of their own.
"There's no play that lost that game," Fisher said. "It was a conglomerate of them across the board."
Maybe the biggest of them all came in the third quarter when Virginia's Chase Minnifield ran down Florida State's Bert Reed.
The Seminoles failed to score a touchdown after Reed was pulled down at the 1 after a 68-yard completion. Florida State settled for Hopkins' second field goal to take a 13-7 lead.
"It ended up being a big play of the game," Minnifield said. "I saw him break out and I started sprinting as hard as I could and, by God's grace, I was able to catch him."
Virginia (8-3, 5-2) snapped Florida State's five-game winning streak with its fourth straight win.
Hopkins, who missed a game-winner last year against North Carolina and then kicked a 55-yard winner the following week to beat Clemson, had kicked a pair of field goals earlier in the game.
It didn't seem to make any difference how many chances Florida State got at the end.
Greg Reid's 35-yard punt return set up Hopkins' 26-yard field goal with 54 seconds left in the half to give the Seminoles a 10-7 lead at halftime.
The Seminoles (7-4, 5-3) had tied the game at 7 with 4:49 left in the half when Manuel hit backup tight end Ja'Baris Little on a 1-yard touchdown pass. It was the first career touchdown for Little, who was one of 16 Seminole seniors playing their final game at home.
Virginia capitalized on a Manuel fumble and scored on the first play of the second quarter to grab a 7-0 lead on Rocco's 7-yard pass to Perry Jones. Rocco had completed 9 of his first 12 passes for 107 yards by the time Virginia finished up its 79-yard scoring drive.
Manuel completed 18 of 31 passes for 200 yards, but was sacked three times.
Rocco was elusive for most of the game, driving Virginia 75 yards on five plays in just 37 seconds for the winning touchdown. The sophomore quarterback completed 22 of 31 passes for 238 yards.
The Cavaliers, who averaged 187.6 yards rushing a game, managed just 78 against Florida State's run defense, which ranked fourth nationally going into the game.
Virginia, which has won six of its last seven games, had never won in eight previous trips to Tallahassee.
Florida State visits Florida next Saturday in the traditional season finale for both schools.
Virginia (7-3) at Florida State (7-3) Nov. 19, 7:30, ESPN2
Here’s The Deal … The ACC Championship Game is going to be a rematch of Clemson’s 23-3 win over Virginia Tech on Oct. 1, right? It’s a foregone conclusion. Probably, but Virginia might beg to differ. The Cavaliers, suddenly the league’s next biggest surprise to the Tigers, have hung around the Coastal Division chase with only two games left. Okay, so season-ending upsets of the Seminoles and the Hokies are highly unlikely, but just being in the discussion in the middle of November is a major coup for second-year head coach Mike London.
With consecutive wins over Miami, Maryland and Duke, Virginia assured itself of a bowl invitation for the first time since 2007. Florida State has been on a tear of its own of late, winning five straight games since suffering an unsightly loss to Wake Forest on Oct. 8. The latest victory over Miami, 23-19, afforded the program some coveted state bragging rights, and kept alive the possibility for a second straight 10-win season under head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Why Virginia Might Win: The Cavaliers are relying on a time-tested formula of sound defense and a consistent running game … and it’s working. There’s nothing fancy about this squad, but the results have been positive. Since quarterback play has been sketchy, Virginia has employed a clock-controlling ground game comprised of nifty Perry Jones and powerful Kevin Parks. The pair has combined for 1,472 yards rushing and 15 total touchdowns.
It has also been a boon to a stingy defense that hasn’t allowed more than 85 yards on the ground in almost a month, and ranks second in the league in pass efficiency D. The Cavs can be just methodical enough to drive Florida State batty with frustration.
Why Florida State Might Win: Monotone offenses aren’t likely to work against this Seminoles defense. No, it isn't vintage ‘Noles, but they do rank in the top 10 nationally in sacks, run defense, scoring defense and total D. No one has produced more than 19 points on them during the five-game winning streak, which is going to be a problem for QB Michael Rocco and an iffy passing game. Plus, no Virginia receiver is going to unnerve the Florida State defensive backs, which means coordinator Mark Stoops can occasionally unleash LB Nigel Bradham on the blitz to support pass-rushing linemen Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner.
If young Rocco is feeling the heat, the result is going to be poor decisions and turnovers. In E.J. Manuel, the Seminoles will enjoy a significant edge at quarterback, and a gifted receiving corps that’s finally approaching full strength.
What To Watch Out For: Everyone associated with the Florida State program is ecstatic to have true freshman WR Rashad Greene back in the fold. The rookie sensation, who’d missed four weeks due to injury, had caught 20 passes for 261 yards and two scores in the two games prior to getting hurt. He had just three catches for 19 yards in last week’s return to action, gradually working back into shape, but has the big-play skills to start erupting again this weekend.
The youthful Seminoles receivers versus the veteran, Chase Minnifield-led Virginia defensive backfield will be one of the more intriguing games-within-the-game at Doak Campbell Stadium.
What Will Happen: Virginia is capable of keeping this game tight, but only for so long. While the defense is underrated, and the ground game is ultra-steady, the Cavaliers will need to be a threshold above average in order to win in Tallahassee.
Florida State is gaining confidence with each passing week, and mining young talent as veterans succumb to injuries. The defense will focus its attention on slowing down Jones and Parks, daring Rocco to beat it through the air. The offense will follow the lead of Manuel, who’ll help guide his team to a hard-fought sixth win in-a-row.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 28 … Virginia 13
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Florida State -17 O/U: 46.5
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