Sports, Fall, Football

Preview: BC Faces its Toughest Task Yet Against No. 3 Florida State

Boston College football has had a shaky start to the 2023 season to say the least. In the past two weeks, the Eagles have lost to Northern Illinois—a non–Power Five team—and narrowly escaped with a three-point victory against FCS opponent Holy Cross. Unlike the adversaries BC (1–1) has battled neck and neck with over the past two weeks, its upcoming matchup is highly regarded on a national level. 

Florida State (2–0) comes into Alumni Stadium ranked No. 3 in the nation, behind only Georgia and Michigan. The Seminoles outplayed a nationally ranked opponent in Week One by 21 points and have been one of the most dominant teams in the early stages this season. While Eagles’ enthusiasts hope to achieve an improbable victory this weekend, various football fans and analysts have already marked this contest as a loss for BC. 

Who is BC playing?

Florida State

When is BC playing?

Saturday, Sept. 16, 12 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass. 

How to Watch: 

The game will air on ABC and BC Sports Network from Learfield on WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM. 

Series History:

BC holds a 5–15 all-time record against Florida State and has dropped its last four matchups against the ACC competitor. While the series between these two foes started with a convincing BC victory in 1957, it has been fairly one-sided in Florida State’s favor ever since. 

The Eagles have especially struggled against FSU when it has been nationally ranked, achieving one lone win in its last nine matchups against top-25 Florida State squads. BC’s most recent matchup with the Seminoles came on Sept. 24, 2022, when No. 11 FSU downed the Eagles by a final score of 44–14. 

This Saturday, BC will hope to reverse the roles of a previous BC-Florida State upset from 2007, when the Seminoles pulled off an astonishing victory against No. 2 BC. Former BC quarterback Matt Ryan led the Eagles that season. 

What to expect from Florida State:

Offense

The Seminoles are led under center by senior quarterback Jordan Travis. Travis had an exceptional 2022 season, totaling 3,214 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns in addition to accumulating 417 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Two weeks into the 2023 season, Travis hasn’t slowed down at all, as he’s thrown for 517 yards and six touchdowns and picked up 58 yards and one touchdown on the ground.  

Travis’ offensive forte is paired with a talented receiving corps, which has been piloted by standout Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman. Through two games, Coleman has recorded 12 receptions for a statline of 170 yards and four touchdowns. Team captain Johnny Wilson will join Coleman out wide this Saturday and look toward improving his 897-yard, five-touchdown campaign from last year. Tight end Jaheim Bell is another notable offensive talent for the Seminoles. Bell has already totaled one rushing and one receiving touchdown through the first two weeks. 

FSU’s running game balances its prolific passing attack, with junior running back Trey Benson paving the way following an impressive 2022 season in which he tallied 990 yards, nine touchdowns, and a staggering 6.4 yards per carry. This rushing attack is enhanced by an offensive line that has seen at least one of its trenchman win ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week in six of Florida State’s last seven games, including the reigning honoree, D’Mitri Emmanuel. 

Defense

On the other end of the ball, Florida State doesn’t cease to impress. In their first game of the season against then-No. 5 LSU, FSU recorded four sacks and an interception. Last week against Southern Mississippi, the Seminoles recorded another two sacks and returned an interception for a 30-yard touchdown. Through two games, Defensive Coordinator Adam Fuller’s unit has looked formidable, allowing only six third-down conversions in 23 attempts. 

Florida State’s defense is headlined by defensive end Jared Verse, who was named a preseason All-American and recorded nine sacks in the 2022 season. Alongside Verse, the daunting Seminoles’ defensive line is boosted by 2022 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Patrick Payton, and transfer Braden Fiske. Linebacker Kalen DeLoach has impressed so far this season with 1.5 sacks in two games—a number that has already halved his 2022 sack total. 

The Seminoles’ secondary has its fair share of star power as well, as defensive backs Renardo Green and Jarrian Jones already have an interception each. Virginia transfer Fentrell Cypress II had an excellent 2022 campaign, tallying 14 passes defended in just nine games and earning the status of one of the nation’s top transfers. FSU’s defense allowed just over 20 points per game last season and will look to lower that average this Saturday. 

If BC hopes to keep up with FSU’s well-balanced and talented roster, the Eagles will have to work extensively at their ability to limit big plays and long drives. While BC has had relative success putting points on the board so far, quarterback Thomas Castellanos and his offense face an unfamiliar tier of defensive competition this week. 

Outlook: 

BC is not expected by many to keep this game close on Saturday, much less win it. Florida State appears to be a contender for a National Championship through the first two weeks of the 2023 season, while BC has struggled against out-of-conference competition. The Eagles enter this week as 26-point underdogs and seem to be outmatched on paper at virtually every position group. 

This weekend’s contest will be BC’s 10th annual Red Bandanna Game, a tradition that BC started in 2014 to honor Welles Crowther, BC ’99, who saved as many as 18 lives in the Sept. 11 attacks. In the first Red Bandanna Game, BC shocked the nation and upset No. 9 Southern California, achieving its most recent victory against an AP top-10 team. If the Eagles want to knock off another top-10 opponent this weekend, they need to prepare their best, play their best, and remember that stranger things have happened.

September 14, 2023