Virginia in between FSU's rivalry games

The Seminoles just defeated bitter rival Miami this past Saturday. And then next Saturday, the 'Noles travel to Florida for another rivalry contest. But in between, Virginia makes a trip to Tallahassee.

The Seminoles have not been through anything like this since joining the ACC in 1992. You have to go back that far to find the last time they played state rivals Miami and Florida in November.

In this case, there is a game in between, when FSU (7-3, 5-2) faces Virginia on Saturday. The Cavaliers happen to be the team with the best record the Seminoles have faced since the first week of October. It could potentially be the only team they beat with a winning record.

But as coach Jimbo Fisher admits, it's not the most desirable scenario.

"It is hard when you get two of your rivals within three weeks of each other," he said. "I am not going to say it is easy. I think that is definitely a concern, but that is the hand you are dealt. That's what you have to do. Hopefully we have learned, and hopefully we will be mature enough to handle that. I think we will. I really do."

Helping the Seminoles is the fact this game is FSU's homecoming and it's the final home game of the season, plus it's at night. All of which leads into the probability of a large crowd and raucous atmosphere.

Also helping the Seminoles is quarterback E.J. Manuel. He grew up in Virginia's Tidewater area, and this is a huge statement game for him knowing so many of his friends and former prep classmates are watching.

"I had so many offers that there was a lot of other programs that I liked and things like that, so it was nothing against that program," he said of Virginia. "It's an awesome school. You can get a great education from there, but at the time the football program wasn't as great as they are now."


The Seminoles will honor their senior class before Saturday's game. It won't take long to salute the players. On the current two-deep depth chart, there are only five senior starters. Two each on offense and defense, along with punter Shawn Powell, who will be one of the biggest losses. ...

After several reviews, the ACC admitted the personal-foul penalty and ejection of linebacker Nigel Bradham against Miami was a legal hit. The penalty directly led to Miami's late fourth-quarter TD and forced an onside-kick recovery by Nick O'Leary to preserve the win. Bradham's ejection cast fears at FSU he would be suspended for his final home game, but the ACC immediately said Bradham wasn't ejected for fighting. The league then admitted he shouldn't have been ejected or penalized in the first place after close review showed a vicious-but-clean tackle. ...

The Seminoles are vying for their sixth consecutive ACC victory, something they have not achieved since 2002. It would also match their longest overall winning streak since 2004. ...

FSU is ranked fourth nationally in running defense, yielding just 85 yards per game. Seven of FSU's 10 opponents have rushed for less than 100 yards.

SERIES HISTORY: Florida State leads 14-2.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Miami game provided a little reality check for the Seminoles. They were not able to run the ball in short yardage and reluctant to run Manuel in the sprint draw or designed quarterback runs. That put emphasis on freshman Devonta Freeman and Manuel's passing ability. Fisher indicated they didn't get Jermaine Thomas involved as much as possible. He had a big game last year against Virginia, gaining 122 yards. The Seminoles have to hope Manuel remains as healthy as possible through this game to head into the finale against Florida.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Not many issues here. The Seminoles have been a different defensive team since the Wake Forest game Oct. 5. They have not allowed more than two touchdowns in the past five games and been able to generate 10 turnovers in the past three games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think it's that difficult. We expect a great matchup every week, whether it's anybody we play. Because everyone wants to beat Florida State. I think that's something that they can always say, 'Yeah, we knocked off FSU, so we still had a pretty good season.'" -- Florida State QB E.J. Manuel on Saturday's game against Virginia.

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