This game is a big opportunity for BC. Sure there are some MAC games and hockey on, but there is no baseball and there is no basketball. The biggest thing BC will be competing with for viewers is The Office. This is a national game, many eyes will be on us, especially eyes that wouldn't normally tune into a BC football game otherwise. A win tonight could get people to take us more seriously, as well as put us on more solid footing for our last three games of the season. Conversely, a loss tonight on a national stage could be the biggest nail in the Spaziani coffin and could draw more attention to how far the program has fallen.
I expect Alumni Stadium to be electric tonight. Although the season has not gone as many of us have expected, this is still a night game against Florida State. Many people marked this game on their calendar prior to the season and are making the effort to go. FSU is also vulnerable. Although they have rattled off three wins the last three weeks, those have been against Duke, Maryland, and NC State. We may have lost to Duke, but I still think BC has more talent than these teams. An electric Alumni Stadium and the cold bite of November could make this a trap game for the Seminoles.
Five Keys to Beating Florida State:
1. Run, run, run- An offense that was once predicated on the abilities of Montel Harris has now found a new identity in the last two weeks. BC has shown that it can run the ball against defenses even without its star back. If Deuce Finch can have even half the game he had last week and Amidon can still make plays with his feet out of the backfield, BC could get Florida State reeling early. In 2008, BC was able to go into Doak- Campbell and win by running the ball down FSU's throat. Doing the same thing tonight could put BC ahead.
2. Contain EJ Manuel- BC's victory in 2009 against FSU was very much a result of being able to contain and limit Christian Ponder. Unlike Ponder, however, EJ Manuel is more of a dual threat quarterback, especially now that he is healthy. Our ability to keep him in the pocket and force him to make his plays with his arm will be a deciding factor. FSU is just as likely to run Manuel out of the backfield as they are the tailbacks. BC needs to be prepared to limit his ability to run and force him to throw. Solid pressure off both edges will force Manuel into turnovers and long yardage situations.
3. Force them to run- This key is partially dependent on our ability to limit EJ Manuel's passing and running. But, in 2011, FSU is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Our rush defense is still stout this year, allowing 4.45 yards per carry. Limiting FSU's passing attack and forcing their offense to pound it out in the trenches can keep BC in this game.
4. Energize the Crowd- Alumni Stadium is not known as a particularly difficult place to play. However, there are certain opponents that the fans "get up" for. Florida State is one of them. Keeping the crowd energized and loud and creating as much as a hostile environment as possible for Florida State will give BC a big edge. A quick score to start the game or solid defensive stops will keep the crowd in it. The crowd tonight may not be big, but it can be loud.
5. Punch them in the mouth- Not literally. Mike Tyson once said "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." Let's not forget that this FSU team was pre-season ranked in the top 5. Then they got punched in the mouth by Clemson and have been in a bit of a spiral since. These last three weeks they have been able to come back together and rattle off three wins, but not against the greatest competition. BC could be the toughest team FSU has seen since playing Clemson in mid- September. BC needs to get after FSU early. A short week and a cold, hostile environment has already put FSU out of its comfort zone. Punch FSU in the mouth early, and their game plan may being to unravel.
I believe BC has a real chance tonight to come out with a win. Since we joined the conference, the BC- FSU series has been an interesting one. The series is split 3-3 since 2005. The games have been hard fought and decided by an average of 8 points, the widest margin of victory being 11 points in 2005. BC played a strong first half against Virginia Tech only to get run out in the second half. Last week we played strong all the way through. If we can play our Virginia Tech first half all game tonight, and continue our offensive success from last week, BC can win this game.