Saturday Snapshot: Cavaliers vs. 'Noles

Florida State's on upset alert this week, as Virginia comes to town sandwiched between rivalry games against Miami and Florida. Here is a closer look at the matchup in our Saturday Snapshot.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 ET
SITE: Doak Campbell Stadium -- Tallahassee, FL
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ESPN2
SERIES: Florida State leads 14-2 (last meeting, 2010, Florida State 34-14)
RECORDS: Virginia 7-3, 4-2 ACC; Florida State 7-3, 5-2 ACC
POLLS: Florida State (No. 23 AP, No. 22 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Florida State 24-14

KEYS TO THE GAME

For Virginia: Start strong. There's plenty of bad mojo chasing Virginia in this series with Florida State. Bad plays and mistakes are going to happen against Florida State, and it's the Cavaliers' job to minimize those instances and maintain their poise when they do happen.

For Florida State: Don't get caught looking ahead (or back). Sandwiched between rivalry games against Miami and Florida (on Nov. 26), this shapes up as an emotional challenge for the Seminoles. The 'Noles will have to slow the Cavaliers' rushing attack, and QB E.J. Manuel will have to throw downfield better than he did a week ago against Miami.

SCOUTING THE TEAMS

Virginia's offensive line has not allowed a single sack during the current three-game winning streak. Only nine FBS teams have allowed fewer sacks on the season. Pass protection is a huge point of emphasis this week when the Cavaliers go against a Florida State team that ranks 10th in the nation in sacks, averaging 3.1 per game.

Virginia has allowed just 10 points in the first quarter all season. That's the lowest total surrendered among all 120 FBS teams. The Cavaliers were fantastic defending the run in last week's win over Duke. Not only did the Blue Devils muster just 34 yards and 1.2 per carry, but none of Duke's individual rushing plays gained more than 7 yards.

The Miami game provided a little reality check for FSU's offense. The Seminoles 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.

There aren't many issues for Florida State on defense. 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. 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.

FAST FACTS

Cavaliers: Virginia heads to a place where it has never won a football game looking to remain in the ACC Coastal Division race. The Cavaliers are 0-8 all-time against Florida State on the road. ... Coach Mike London denied reports after the Cavaliers' 31-21 win over Duke last Saturday that he had been offered the now open Penn State job. ... Virginia has been much better this season in avoiding penalties. The Cavaliers are averaging 5.3 penalties for 42.1 yards per game through 10 contests this season. That's much better than the 8.2 penalties and 73.3 penalty yards last season's squad averaged. ... Last week's game against Duke marked the first time all season that freshman QB David Watford did not play. Watford split time with Michael Rocco in Virginia's first seven games of the season.

Seminoles: This will be the first meeting in Tallahassee between these teams in five years. Virginia is one of three ACC teams that has never won at FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium, and most of the games in Tallahassee have been FSU routs. The Seminoles' 31-24 win at home in 1996 was the only time Virginia has lost by less than 20 points. ... The Seminoles played one of their best games of the 2010 season last year at Virginia, rushing for 256 yards and building a 27-0 halftime lead. ...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. ... 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. ... Powell would be leading the nation with his 47.1 punting average if he had enough attempts.


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