Florida State vs. Syracuse Preview

SYRACUSE, NY - OCTOBER 11: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles stretches to score a touchdown on a 7 yard run during the fourth quarter on October 11, 2014 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Florida State Seminoles defeat Syracuse Orange 38-20. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The 17th ranked Florida State Seminoles (7-3, 4-3) hit the road on Saturday to take on the Syracuse Orange (4-6, 2-4) at 3:30 PM EST. All eyes will be on Dalvin Cook Saturday as he is just 19 yards away from becoming the Seminoles’ all-time leading rusher.

Last Week

Florida State cruised to a 45-7 victory over Boston College. Syracuse, however, fell to NC State 35-20. The Orange must now win both of its remaining games in order to become bowl eligible.

Florida State Versus Syracuse Preview

Florida State Wins If…

The Seminoles played their most complete game of the season against Boston College. A repeat performance should give Florida State an easy win. The emergence of Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate has done wonders for the development of Deondre Francois. This vertical passing game has also helped Cook find space easier. If the Seminoles can take care of mismatches down field, then they should have no problem opening up holes for Cook.

Defensively, Florida State’s success hinges on its ability to pressure the quarterback. With the Orange missing signal caller, Eric Dungey, a relentless pass rush could lead to more ill-advised throws from junior Zack Mahoney. Seminole conerback, Tavarus McFadden, leads the nation in interceptions and if Mahoney is rattled by constant pressure, McFadden should be able to add to his lead.

Syracuse Wins If…

On offense, the Orange must rely heavily on running back, Dontae Strickland. If it can avoid being one dimensional, then the Orange can relieve some of the pressure Mahoney will face. Syracuse should also use Florida State’s aggressive pass rush against itself. Screens and draw plays should keep the Seminoles’ front seven honest and open up the vertical passing game for the Orange. Finally, the Orange should try and confuse Florida State’s young secondary. The Seminoles have struggled with busted coverages this year due to breakdown in communications. Using stack formations and pre-snap motion could cause confusion in the Seminoles’ secondary and open the door for a big play.

On the other side of the ball, the Orange needs to win the line of scrimmage. Florida State’s offensive line has struggled to protect its quarterbacks. The Orange’s defensive line winning the line of scrimmage limits the amount of time Francois has to find open receivers down field. Controlling the battle up front also prevents Cook from getting to the next level. Cook as proven that all he needs is the smallest crease to break a long run. Hitting him in the backfield prevents him from finding the space he needs to make game-changing plays.

Game Prediction

Syracuse will come out swinging for the fences early. The Orange is playing to keep its bowl chances alive. Syracuse will come out strong early, but the Seminoles should have no problem putting this game away.

FSU 49 – CUSE 10