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Virginia vs. Florida State ACC Football Pick with Analysis

11/19/11

The Virginia Cavaliers stand a chance to win the ACC. Yes, you read that correctly. In order to keep their hopes alive they will have to dispatch a solid Florida State team on Saturday. Can they do it? All we can say is that you shouldn't count them out. They are a whopping +17 point underdog this week with a posted total 46.5.

The Cavs can move the ball. They have gained 400+ yards 6 different times. They rocked Maryland for 527 total yards and gained 470 against Miami. They don't have one standout player. This is a team effort. Still, if you have to put a face on the effort it is QB Mike Rocco. The sophomore has improved all year long and is only going to get better the more he plays. RB Perry Jones isn't too bad either. His last two games have been especially good as he gained a combined 213 yards and 3 TDs.

Florida State has mired for over a month outside of the AP Poll, but they are finally back after 5 consecutive wins in which they beat nobody of consequence. They have a suffocating defense and they rank 7th nationally in Points Against at 16.1 PPG.

QB EJ Manuel runs the show for HC Jimbo Fisher's team. He completes a lot of passes and he's got a lot of raw talent. It's time he starts living up to that. The junior failed to produce in his only big game this year, Oklahoma, but he will get a shot at redemption against an underrated Virginia team.

Neither team has played a schedule filled with tough games. Their common opponents are NC State, Miami, Maryland and Duke. Florida State is 4-0 against those teams while Virginia is 3-1. The loss for Virginia came against NC State. The outcomes against the other 3 were by similar margins. They both suffered early season back to back losses and for FSU, it just so happened to be against their toughest two opponents, Oklahoma and Clemson.

No question Florida State is the better football team. Our model likes Florida State by a score of 32-12. Virginia has never beaten Florida State on the road and if you take a glance at the scores in this series over the years, you'll find mostly lopsided scores in favor of the Seminoles. Florida State simply recruits better talent and have done so for years.

The yards per point numbers would also point us towards FSU. Better on both sides of the ball and that comes against a stronger schedule which included Oklahoma. FSU's ypp numbers are very good, 12 offensively and 17 defensively. Virginia comes in with a 16 on offense and a 15 on defense. Below average offensively, average defensively, also indicating that Virginia would likely be in a load of trouble if FSU gets off to a fast start. No way they can go toe to toe and match them score for score in a shootout.

But Virginia is far from a pushover this year. They rank in the top half of all teams in most major statistical categories and as high as 34th rushing the football and 25th stopping the run.

Big games can do wonders for underdogs and this one is huge for Virginia. They can play themselves right into the ACC Title game if they win out the rest of the way as they face division leader Virginia Tech next week to end their season. They catch Florida State in a Miami Hurricane - Florida Gator sandwich and have the additional motivation of never having beaten the Seminoles in Tallahassee.

Virginia is going to do all they can to shorten this game and give themselves a chance to be within striking distance come the 4th quarter. They'll be up against a quicker, more talented team, but huge games have a way of making players and teams a little better than they actually, even if only for 60 minutes, and this would qualify as one of the biggest games in many years for Virginia and likely the biggest in the careers of many of these players.

Based on their performance against common opponents, we're going to give the Cavs a chance here. It's a boatload of points to be giving a Virginia team that should be able to muster their best effort of the year. Virginia +17

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