You can’t blame Willie Taggart for taking his dream job and returning home to the state of Florida. But unlike some of his other gigs, the pressure is always on the Florida State Seminoles to win the ACC and contend for a national championship. Those expectations are unrealistic this season and the Noles showed they have a long way to go after their first two games. His tenure will be judged on wins and losses, and Taggart takes a career coaching record of 48-51 into Saturday’s ACC opener against the Syracuse Orange.
This matchup in Week 3 will take place on Saturday, September 15, 2018, at 12 p.m. ET inside the Carrier Dome.
College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu
Florida State Seminoles -3
Syracuse Orange +3
Over/Under (Check Back Later)
The Seminoles have lost some of their appeal after dropping the opener and needing a fourth-quarter comeback to get past Samford last week. FSU opened as a 3-point road favorite, the lowest the line has been in the last seven meetings when the Noles were double-digit favorites six times.
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After missing all but the opener of the 2017 season, it’s been a rocky return for Deondre Francois. Penciled in as the starter at the beginning of the season for the then No. 19 Noles, Francois struggled in a loss to Virginia Tech, tossing three picks and generating little offense in the 24-3 loss. Francois was constantly hounded while dropping back and took five sacks. He was 22 of 35 for 233 yards, but the Noles failed to score a touchdown at home for the first time in a decade.
Taking on Samford was just what FSU needed to get a victory and in a groove offensively. It didn’t come without anxious moments, however. Down 26-21 in the fourth quarter, Francois led an 82-yard touchdown drive that gave the Noles their first lead of the season. Francois threw for 320 yards on 31 of 46 passing with three touchdowns. He also ran for a score and didn’t throw an interception.
With FSU struggling last season, the Orange had an opportunity to end their years of frustration. Unfortunately, the outcome was the same as the previous 10 meetings. The Noles entered last year’s matchup riding a two-game losing streak and were just 2-5 on the year. They were blitzed the week before by Boston College.
The Orange couldn’t take advantage, however. They got within three points when Eric Dungey scored on a short run late in the fourth quarter, and forced the Noles to punt on their next possession, setting the stage for a possible upset. Taking over at their own 18, Dungey drove the Orange to the FSU 25 only to watch Cole Murphy’s 43-yard field attempt sail wide right as time expired. Dungey had a big night passing for 278 yards and two touchdowns while running for 109 yards and another score. But it wasn’t enough.
When healthy, Dungey is one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the country. It’s been a struggle for him to stay in the lineup over the past three seasons given the beating he constantly takes. Dungey has played lights out this season and will make things difficult for a Seminoles defense that has surrendered a total of 50 points over the first two games.
Holding Virginia Tech to 24 points might be considered a victory, but the Noles were gouged for 525 total yards by FCS Samford last week. Dungey has completed over 61 percent of his passes for 402 yards and seven touchdowns this season. In addition, he leads the Orange in rushing with 244 yards, averaging 9.4 yards per carry, and a touchdown.
Free ATS Pick
The Noles are a work in progress and they aren’t getting a lot of support after just getting by FCS Samford last week. But they showed poise on both sides of the ball to claim their first victory of the season. Francois led the offense and the defense chipped in with four interceptions, negating the over 500 yards the group allowed.
Dungey has been dynamic in leading the Orange to an average of 58.5 points in their first two outings, but we must consider the competition. Western Michigan hasn’t stopped anybody this season and Wagner is a lower-lever FCS team. Still, Cuse looked good doing it and they will give Florida State some problems. After coming close last year, Dungey and his mates are poised to get the Orange a win this time.
College Football Odds: Syracuse 38, Florida State 35
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