So the second-best team in the country is taking on a middling team that is struggling to make a bowl. Must-see TV, no?
Well, the matchup between Florida State and Syracuse does provide us something interesting. For one, there's the potential—albeit small—of the Orange pulling the upset and sending the BCS into massive chaos.
For another, this could be a signature game for Jameis Winston's Heisman campaign. He has a chance to put up huge numbers.
I'll break down the keys for each team below, and then offer some closing thoughts.
It's going to be an uphill climb for Syracuse to win this one.
They're not a bad team. They're 5-4 and have nice wins over Maryland and at NC State.
But this is not a good team. They're ranked 89th in scoring offense. Terrel Hunt is an average quarterback, at best. The only real offensive threat is Jerome Smith, who has rushed for 705 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Florida State's defense is just too good for the Orange to get sustained movement.
The only way to win is to pressure Winston. They need to get in his face. Problem is, Winston has only been sacked 14 times all year. Syracuse does have 25 sacks, and senior Jay Bromley has seven.
Winston's mobility and the skill of the offensive line should neutralize Bromley and the defensive line.
Let's be honest here—it's going to take something completely unforeseen for the Orange to pull off the massive upset.
The key for the Seminoles is simple—stay healthy.
There's no reason why they should lose this one. They are better in every facet.
So unless Winston gets hurt, or even any other key player, there's no way they can lose this game.
Winston will put up huge numbers against Syracuse's porous defense, and it's not hard to imagine the defense pitching a shutout.
The big question, in my mind, is whether Winston will play the whole game. If he does, then he will have the chance to pad his numbers for a Heisman campaign. But not playing him might be the smart play. There's no reason to risk injury to the team's most important player.
Syracuse lost to Clemson by a score of 49-14. Florida State beat Clemson by a score of 51-14.
This isn't shaping up well for the Orange. The only way they can win is for Jameis Winston to get hurt.
Otherwise, I just don't see the Seminoles faltering. Will they be looking ahead to Florida? Maybe, but that's in two weeks. There's a game against Idaho in between. Are they looking forward to a title game? Again, it's possible, but it's just so far away.
Plus, Florida State can't mail it in. If they barely escape Syracuse, and Baylor or Ohio States beats up on their respective opponents, then it's not impossible to think that the Seminoles can slip. Of those four, the ones that will reach the championship game will do so because they have the most style points. If Florida State can barely beat Syracuse, then the Seminoles could find themselves on the outside looking in.
I think Florida State is focused on two things—keeping their No. 2 seed, and improving Winston's Heisman stock. Both can be accomplished with a big win.
And I think that's what's going to happen. Look for the Seminoles to keep their magical season alive, winning by a score of 52-13.