The Florida State Seminoles kick off their BCS hopeful 2012 season against the Murray State Racers on Saturday night from Doak Campbell Stadium.
Injuries hampered the Noles offense in 2011, but they still managed to put up an impressive performance.
This year, quarterback EJ Manuel hopes to stay upright and healthy in what looks to be a breakout year in Tallahassee. They’ll have a good start, as they begin the season with four consecutive home games at
On the other side of the ball, the Murray State Racers come into hostile territory with upset on their mind. Their high-powered, quick-strike spread offense can give defenses fits if executed efficiently. It can effectively equalize the stout Seminoles pass rush if firing on all cylinders.
When: Saturday, September 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Listen: Sirius 135 / XM 1920
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
Betting Line: N/A
Probable: WR Greg Dent (Elbow), WR Rashad Greene (Appendix), EJ Manuel (Ankle)
Doubtful: WR Josh Gehres (Hamstring)
Out: OL Daniel Foose (Back), DL Anthony McCloud (Chest), DL Moses McCray (Head), DL Jaccobi McDaniel (Ankle), DL Derrick Mitchell (Back)
Out for the Season: DT Derrick Mitchell (Back), RB Mario Pender (Groin)
Murray State Injuries (via USA Today)
What's at Stake?
Florida State has begun the 2012 campaign as the seventh ranked team in the nation, thanks to a promising 9-4 season in 2011.
The national championship isn’t a far cry for a team that underperformed a season ago and has added to their firepower with a solid recruiting class. In their school’s history, the Seminoles are 18-0 against teams from the FCS and have everything to lose in their opener against the Racers.
Murray State, on the other hand, is playing the role of spoiler and has nothing to lose, because quite frankly, no one expects much out of them in this one.
Florida State Player to Watch: EJ Manuel, QB
Manuel threw for 2,666 yards and had 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2011. His underwhelming performance was attributed to injuries and some inconsistency on the offensive line.
However, the o-line has undergone a complete overhaul and has only 12 starts under the belts of the collective group. If the line is indeed improved, Manuel will be a player to watch for not only this game, but the rest of the season as well.
Murray State Player to Watch: Casey Brockman, QB
The Murray State racers have a pretty good quarterback of their own. Casey Brockman has been setting passing records lately in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Brockman’s quick release has spurred instant offense for the Racers in their team’s fast paced and quick shooting spread offense. He totaled 3,276 yards with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2011 for the Racers.
Seminoles cornerback Xavier Rhodes understands the task at hand, though.
“This is going to be difficult,” Rhodes said, according to Coley Harvey of the Orlando Sentinel.
What They're Saying
Murray State head coach Chris Hatcher, who coached under Mike Leach, thinks his high octane offense will test the stout Florida State defense, according to an exclusive interview the coach gave to classicnoles.typepad.com on August 27:
"We like to play the high tempo and of course we hope to be able to score a lot of points this year."
He went on to acknowledge the task posed by the Seminoles defense.
"So on Saturday we're going to try to throw the ball around the field as much as we can. But going against FSU in that first game with the great defense they have will be quite a challenge for our football team."
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher is just glad the season is here. He spoke about his team’s excitement to begin the season against Murray State on Saturday in an interview on Seminoles.com.
“‘The hay's in the barn,’ FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said Thursday, after the Seminoles wrapped up their final full practice in advance of Saturday's home opener against Murray State. ‘It was a good polish day. I really liked the attitude. I thought our guys were really focused; had a lot of attention to detail. I think they're ready to play. They want to play somebody besides themselves, I know that. I'm very anxious to get out in the stadium and see what we've got.’"
Key Matchup: Florida State’s pass rush against the Racers’ spread offense
The Seminoles are returning eight starters on defense from a season ago. Oh, by the way, the Seminoles defense was pretty stout in 2011.
They held teams to a mere 15.1 points per game while allowing on 275 yards per contest. That was good enough for fourth in the nation, according to ESPN.
Florida State is too high-powered not to take this one easily.
An improved offensive line means more time for EJ Manuel to pick apart the Racers defense. The Noles defense is also one of the best in the nation but will have a big test at hand in slowing the spread attack.
The Seminoles will win, but it may be closer than many are hoping and predicting.
Florida State 38, Murray State 17