After back-to-back close calls against Notre Dame and Louisville in their last two games, things seemingly get a little easier for the Florida State Seminoles this week, as they come home to face the Virginia Cavaliers. Of course, with two in-state rivals still left on the schedule, this could be a trap game for the Seminoles, who appear to control their own destiny with regard to reaching the College Football Playoff.
Virginia is reeling after losing three in a row and need to win two of their final three to reach a bowl game, but they’re better than their 4-5 record would suggest. The Cavs beat Louisville early in the season and gave UCLA everything they can handle, so they’re capable of being competitive with quality teams. The Virginia defense has been solid all season, holding most of their opponents below their season average in points. Kevin Parks is also one of the more underrated running backs in the country. With a good defensive effort and a competent running game, the Cavaliers may have a puncher’s chance against the Seminoles.
Of course, all of Florida State’s games depend on how motivated they are to play. The Seminoles have come out flat plenty of times this season and allowed lesser teams to hang around. In the second half against Louisville, the Seminoles showed what they are capable of when they flip the switch in the right direction, but against Virginia’s defense, points may be hard to come by if Jameis Winston and company aren’t sharp. Moreover, Florida State needs to maintain focus during the final month of the season or risk getting tripped up by a lesser team.
Ultimately, Virginia doesn’t have the offensive firepower to pull off an upset of Florida State, especially in Tallahassee. But the Cavaliers will keep things close into the second half, as the Seminoles will have trouble establishing a run game against the Virginia defense. In the end, Winston will make the kinds of plays that make him a Heisman winner, keeping Florida State undefeated.
Prediction: Florida State 31, Virginia 13