The 'Noles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) will be making its first ever in-conference trip to Boston College while the Eagles (2-0, 0-0) will be playing in its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference game.
And while FSU's streak-ending victory over conference foe Miami was important in a variety of ways, Saturday's tilt at BC quite possibly carries more importance, as the winner will be in the driver's seat of the Atlantic Division. A Seminole victory would lead to increased momentum through the rest of this year's conference games and consequently, a possible rematch with the Hurricanes — if they can win the Coastal Division — at the ACC Championship.
"This is our first conference game in our division, so it is going to be a big deal," FSU redshirt sophomore safety Anthony Houllis said. "This is also the first game that Boston College is playing in the ACC. It is going to be important to win this game, so we can help ourselves get to the conference championship game."
The game will also mark the first time in their respective young careers that FSU quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee will see action during a Seminole road game.
"Well it's another dimension they haven't been through yet," FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said. "We've played a powerhouse at home, and we played a I-AA team at home, now we're going away from home to play a team that's favored. So it's just another dimension, but they've got to face over and over and over."
Like the game against Miami, the 'Noles will most likely rely on the ground game to take the pressure off of the young quarterbacks. Helping matters, however, will be the seemingly rejuvenated FSU passing attack that torched The Citadel last week.
Redshirt junior Chris Davis and sophomore De'Cody Fagg — who will be replacing the injured Willie Reid for the second consecutive game — will get the start, and all of the Tribe's young receivers, who happen to be coming off an inspiring game against the Bulldogs, are expected to contribute.
"A lot of the guys just try to come together as one," FSU true freshman wide receiver Fred Rouse said of the young receiving corps. "It's not about 'oh he's starting, he's getting a lot of playing time.' If he's not getting a lot of playing time we pat him on the back and tell him don't worry about it, you'll get a chance. Everyone's accomplished something; we're ready to roll."
Perhaps the tell-tale sign as to just how important this ACC match-up is, will be the presence of ESPN's "College GameDay Built by the Home Depot," on hand for the first time ever at the BC campus. Interestingly enough, the powers-that-be at ESPN chose the game over the Southeastern Conference showdown between Tennessee and Florida that will be taking place Saturday.
"College GameDay's going to be there, those guys are going to be pumped, real rowdy," Rouse said. "They got an undefeated Florida State coming in that just beat Miami, you know, a lot of saying is going on, but we going out to prove we are No. 1, we got to go to Pasadena, we want it."
So what about the Eagles?
As mentioned, Boston College enters its first-ever ACC tilt undefeated after taking down BYU and the Army on the road. Against Army, the Eagles put up 464 yards on offense while holding the Black Knights to 250 yards.
Despite two straight road wins, however, head coach Tom O'Brien knows the competition is about to change drastically.
"The competition's going to change," O'Brien said. "The speed factor and everything else is going to pick up Saturday night."
Leading the way for an Eagle offense that is averaging 414.5 yards and 32 points per game is redshirt senior quarterback Quinton Porter.
Porter threw for 1,764 yards and 14 touchdowns in his junior campaign in 2003 but was redshirted in 2004 in a move — designed by O'Brien — with the purpose of saving the now fifth-year player for BC's first year in the ACC. Through the team's first two games Porter has completed 76 percent of his passes for 438 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His prowess for hitting his target currently ranks as No. 17 among all college quarterbacks in terms of efficiency.
His favorite target?
"Mr. Everything" Will Blackmon, who has made the switch from cornerback to full-time wide receiver. The senior from Cranston, RI has nine receptions thus far for 141 yards and one score. Expect to see him returning kick-offs and punts as well – two areas that he has excelled at throughout his career.
Helping matters even more is an offensive line that boasts more than a few players in the 320-plus range in regards to weight. Noting the notorious speed that the Seminoles traditionally possess, O'Brien has applied some simple logic, saying: "It's going to be us Clydesdales vs. them thoroughbreds."
Defensively, the Eagles feature one of the nation's top ends in All-America candidate Mathias Kiwanuka. Despite struggling against double and triple teams through the first two games, the senior — who has notched eight tackles — has been part of a defense giving up just 269 yards per contest.
The defensive squad also features one of the leagues emerging stars in linebacker Brian Toal, who is fourth on the team in tackles thus far. The former high school teammate of FSU cornerback Michael Ray Garvin, Toal has seen action on the offensive side of the ball as well. He has two rushing scores from short yardage this season.
With a size advantage on the line, a playmaker and several utility style players, O'Brien is confident his team can compete in the ACC and against FSU. He just wants to see how great of a factor the Tribe's speed advantage will be.
"There were a lot of things we had to accomplish when I came here, but we still had some speed issues and it's going to be magnified this week when Florida State comes to town," O'Brien said. "That's a work in progress, and we continue to recruit the best speed we can get, but we're going to play an awful fast team on Saturday night. Our former Big East brethren and a lot of the ACC schools said that we won't stand a chance because of our skill level. We're going to find out."
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