ACC Championship Preview

Florida State(9-3) will play Virginia Tech(10-2) Saturday in Charlotte for the ACC Championship. Both teams enter the game coming off wins over in-state rivals and are clearly the top two teams in the conference. NoleDigest has a preview of the game.

Quarterback

Christian Ponder: 183-294(62.2%), 2,038 yards. 20 TD- 8 INT

Tyrod Taylor: 154-256(60.2%), 2,258 yards, 20 TD- 4 INT---613 yards rushing

A pair of experienced signal callers here, both have started a ton of games in their career. Taylor has had the better year, in fact it quietly has been a great one. Virginia Tech does not do a lot of runs with him, most of that yardage is just him eluding pressure and taking off. Ponder enters the game with the confidence gained from the big win last week. He is also capable of picking up yards with his feet.

Interestingly both teams have young capable back-ups as well. E.J. Manuel and Logan Thomas represent the future for both programs.

Running Back

Florida State

Chris Thompson: 100-687(6.9), 5 TD

Ty Jones: 77-496(6.4), 2 TD

Virginia Tech

Darren Evans: 133-748(5.6), 10 TD

Ryan Williams: 95-428, 9 TD

David Wilson: 97-573(5.9)

If Jermaine Thomas was healthy the teams would enter with essentially the same situation. If you judge by yards per carry(and the competition is similar), FSU has ran the ball better this year. You see the first difference in offensive play-calling as VT has logged more carries(vs. Ponder with more passes--not to mention Manuel's start).

These VT backs are workhorses and they are made for games like this as well as VT's style of offense. Thompson has the big play ability, last week he came within a foot of popping one. The Noles will need 1-2 of those big plays in this one. Ponder is a situational runner, a role he excels at.

Wide Receiver

Florida State

Bert Reed: 53-547, 2 TD

Taiwan Easterling: 33-500, 6 TD

Willie Haulstead: 35-462, 4 TD

Rodney Smith: 27-408, 3 TD

Virginia Tech

Jarrett Boykin: 45-728, 5 TD

Danny Coale: 26-497, 2 TD

Dyrell Roberts: 21-303, 2 TD

Marcus Davis: 16-213, 2 TD

Florida State has more big play ability here and is healthier entering the game. Coach Lawrence Dawsey has his group playing their best football of the year. Smith and Haulstead have shown that their size is a difficult match-up. Boykin is dangerous and should draw increased attention from the FSU secondary. The rest of the WRs are solid.

Virginia Tech's defense specializes in creating a lot of turnovers with their secondary, in particular Florida product Jayron Hosley. This will be the key match-up in the game.

Florida State puts a lot of pressure on the QB, but this week that will not be as important as containing Taylor. The defense really needs to work together on assignment football in order to keep him in check.

Game Outlook: The teams go about their business in different ways, but the end result is very similar. This is the type of game that both teams should be happy that they have experienced signal callers.

VT is averaging 34.8 points per game. FSU is averaging 31.7. VT gives up 17.9 point per game. FSU gives up 17.8. This is about as even as it gets.

The Hokie's have been as good as anyone the last nine weeks, in fact they have hardly been tested. Florida State also could have reeled off 10 wins in a row(since Oklahoma), but lost a couple of nail-biters. Bottom line, both enter playing quality football.

Georgia Tech was able to run for big yardage(in a loss) and FSU will need to run it better than they did last week vs. the Gators.

This seems like a game where 20 points will go a long way and 27 is enough to win. We think this is a close game that goes deep into the fourth quarter in doubt.

Something "feels" right about FSU winning this game, we will go with 24-21 Noles on a late Dustin Hopkins field goal.


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