Battle in the ACC

Tallahassee, Florida - Florida State seems to be getting better at winning close games. The Seminoles, though, had no chance in last season's matchup with Virginia Tech.

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With two straight closely contested wins under their belt, the 24th-ranked Seminoles look to avenge a blowout loss to the Hokies when the ACC rivals meet Saturday.

Oddsmakers from have made Florida State –5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Virginia Tech +5 (View College Football bet percentages).

Finding a way to come out on top in tight matchups had been a problem for Florida State (5-1, 2-1) in recent years. During the previous two seasons, the Seminoles went 3-7 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

But on Oct. 16, Florida State overcame a four-point fourth quarter deficit to hold on for a 26-17 win over North Carolina State after pulling out a 41-39 squeaker at Miami on Oct. 4 in its previous game.

"I've always felt like the success to having good years is to win the close games," Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said. "If you look at our record the last three, four, five years we have not done that."

Florida State has had some close games in that span, but usually fell a few points short. That included a 24-20 loss to the Wolfpack the last time the Seminoles went to Raleigh two years ago.

Florida State's matchup with Virginia Tech (5-2, 2-1) last season, however, was anything but close. The Hokies compiled 395 total yards en route to winning 40-21 on Nov. 10, ending Bowden's 15-0 run against Virginia Tech.

But Virginia Tech dropped out of the Top 25 this week following a 28-23 loss to Boston College last Saturday, and Florida State hasn't lost since a 12-3 defeat against then-No. 18 Wake Forest on Sept. 20.

Christian Ponder is beginning to give the Seminoles consistent play at quarterback, complementing what has been an outstanding running game.

Ponder received attention with his 144 yards rushing - the second-most by a Florida State quarterback - in the win over Miami, but last Thursday he looked sharp throwing the football. He competed 23 of 35 passes for 254 yards, all season highs.

The Seminoles haven't needed to throw much because their running game has been so good. Antone Smith has run for 517 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Ponder is second on the team with 344 yards on the ground.

With 138 rushing yards against the Wolfpack, Florida State has now reached the century mark in each of its six games this season. This is the first time since 2002 that the Seminoles have started the season with six straight games with at least 100 yards rushing.

The Hokies have allowed 122.5 rushing yards per game, but have forced 10 fumbles this season.

"You'd have to say Virginia Tech has been in the top echelon for the last 10-15-20 years, so I think it'll give us another degree to see, are we climbing back?" Bowden said. "I do think they are a step up."

But the Hokies are trying to rebound after losing their No. 17 spot in the poll. They had won five straight before last Saturday.

"We've got to execute better," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "We've got to execute better defensively. We've got to execute better offensively. We've got to execute better in the kicking game. This is a process we're going to continue."

Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor struggled, completing 12 of 27 passes for 90 yards with an interception. Taylor leads the team with 510 yards rushing, but has thrown one TD pass in 97 attempts.

"We just have to go back to the drawing board and fix up some of these little things that are hurting us," Taylor said.

The Seminoles lead the all-time series with the Hokies 21-11-1.

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
FLORIDA ST is 3-1 against the spread versus VIRGINIA TECH since 1992
FLORIDA ST is 3-1 straight up against VIRGINIA TECH since 1992
3 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
VIRGINIA TECH is 1-0 against the spread versus FLORIDA ST over the last 3 seasons 
VIRGINIA TECH is 1-0 straight up against FLORIDA ST over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[RB] Ryan Williams will redshirt. - None - 09/17/08
[WR] Zach Luckett is out indefinitely - Suspension - 09/08/08
[WR] Ike Whitaker out indefinitely - Suspension - 10/02/08
[WR] Brandon Dillard expected to miss entire season - ACL - 07/17/08
[DB] Davon Morgan out for season - ACL - 09/28/08
[FS] Ron Cooper is expected to miss the season. - ACL - 08/11/08
[RB] Kenny Lewis out for the season - Ankle - 10/04/08
[LB] Bruce Taylor likely to miss the rest of the season. - Shoulder - 10/0
[WR] Xavier Boyce is expected to miss the rest of the season. - Knee - 10/
[RB] Tavares Pressley is expected to miss entire season. - Knee - 08/29/08
[C] AJ Ganguzza missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/04/08
[OL] Evan Bellamy is expected to miss entire season. - Blood Clot - 07/17/
[DT] Emmanuel Dunbar is expected to miss entire season. - Back - 09/19/08

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Posted: 10/21/08 11:55 PM

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