But this Duke team is quite simply overmatched athletically at nearly every position against Florida State. In their win against Virginia Tech, the Duke offense struggled mightily, turning it over four times and only scoring 13 points on 3.67 yards per play. There is little reason to think they can do better against a Florida State defense that is no worse than equal to that Hokie defense.
Duke survived that game because Virginia Tech was even worse on offense, also turning it over four times and not putting points on the board in the red zone. It's highly unlikely Florida State's offense, which has been one of the most productive offenses in the history of the modern game, scoring a staggering .798 points per play, will have the same kinds of struggles against an overachieving but athletically limited Duke defense.
Florida State has the edge on both lines, and that advantage is significant. This Duke team went deep into the fourth quarter before putting NC State away—the same NC State that Florida State beat by 35. In the first quarter.
Given that this FSU team has been all business and has respected each opponent this year, there's little reason to expect a letdown now, one game before a shot at a national title and immediately following the resolution of a huge distraction surrounding quarterback Jameis Winston's legal status.
Instead, expect a focused Florida State to remind a plucky, confident Duke squad of just how big the gulf is between these teams very early in the game, with FSU again pulling its starters by the fourth quarter. I expect this year's game to essentially mirror last year's 48–7 laugher in Tallahassee, with the Seminoles winning comfortably, 45–10, assuming the starters don't play a down in the fourth quarter. Wayne: Duke comes into the game with their first BCS ranking, first 10 win season, and their first Coastal Division crown. Fortunately for them the will still walk out of Charlotte with two of those things.
Led by Coach Cutcliffe and the two headed monster of Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone the Blue Devils have knocked off Miami, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina to get here. However this Florida State team is a completely different animal. Over the years Duke and Florida State have played 18 times. Florida State has won all 18 and none have been closer than 19 points. I expect that trend to continue as the Noles roll through Duke 51-13 on their way to Pasadena.