The No. 20 Duke Blue Devils and No. 1 Florida State Seminoles will square off from Bank of America Stadium Saturday in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship.
Florida State is a stunning 12-0 and rests as the top team in the nation as a result. Led by Heisman favorite Jameis Winston, no team has even come close to competing with the Seminoles this season.
Duke has been on a dominant stretch as of late. The Blue Devils are 10-2 out of the Coastal Division. The strong season is the school's first winning season since going 8-4 in 1994.
As lopsided as this contest appears, the Seminoles would be wise to not look at the Blue Devils as a "just happy to be here" opponent—especially with national title implications riding on the outcome.
When: Saturday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Live Stream: ESPN3
David vs Goliath? Here's a look at the ACC Championship Game matchup between Duke and Florida State: pic.twitter.com/EkdWsszoAI— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 30, 2013
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 62.5
- Spread: Florida State (-29)
This is straightforward enough.
Florida State wins and plays in the national championship. So much for those "We want 'Bama!" chants.
The opponent may be No. 2 Ohio State. It could very well be No. 4 Alabama, depending on the outcome of the SEC Championship Game between No. 3 Auburn and No. 5 Missouri.
Regardless, the Seminoles need a win. Simple.
Things are easy enough for Duke too. A win means a jump into the BCS. A loss leads to a credible bowl game, but that does not compare to what could be in the BCS.
Keys for Duke Victory
Duke has relied on a stingy defense to win games this year. The Blue Devils allow an average of just 23 points per game.
However, their last two contests provide some cause for concern. Two games ago, Duke slipped by 4-8 Wake Forest 28-21. Last week, the Blue Devils hardly got past .500 North Carolina 27-25.
Against a Florida State offense that averages 53.7 points, the Duke defense has to step it up a notch.
The Blue Devils have been potent on offense all year with the combo of junior quarterbacks Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone. The duo have combined for 2,905 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.
Both have also shown versatility, with a combined 521 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.
That unpredictability will need to be on full display Saturday if the Blue Devils are to pull off the upset.
Keys for Florida State Victory
The Seminoles have defeated three ranked opponents this year by a combined score of 155-28.
Suffice it to say that Florida State does not have to do anything different going into this game.
Florida State has won all 18 meetings vs Duke by an average of 34 points! #DUKEvsFSU— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) December 2, 2013
The offense must continue to roll with Winston and his 3,490 yards and 35 touchdowns. Running backs Devonta Freeman (852 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Karlos Williams (650 yards, 10 touchdowns) must continue to be effective on the ground.
Defensively, the Seminoles must prepare for a versatile attack that averages 33.7 points per game.
Most of all, the Seminoles simply cannot get complacent. This is a lopsided match on paper, but that could mean little if Florida State does not take it seriously.
This one will go as advertised.
Which team wins?
Duke is a Cinderella, and an impressive one at that, but the team simply does not have enough firepower to stick with the Seminoles. We can even play the "common opponent" card. Remember how Duke slipped by Wake Forest 28-21? The Seminoles beat the Demon Deacons 59-3.
Credit to the Blue Devils for a miraculous and program-defining season, but it does not appear any team is coming close to sticking with Florida State this year.
The Seminoles offense rolls, and the defense swallows up anything the Blue Devils attempt.
Prediction: Seminoles 48, Blue Devils 17