GAME PREVIEW: Florida State vs Duke

Game Introduction:

The strangest year in the history of sports just continues to grow weirder. Following Florida State being sidelined for the last three weeks due to COVID-19 protocols, the Seminoles will finish out 2020 with a pair of December ACC games. It all starts tomorrow as the Duke Blue Devils travel to Tallahassee to take on FSU in Doak Campbell Stadium. Originally, this game was supposed to be played in Durham but that changed when the schedules were altered due to cancellations.

The ‘Noles enter this game with a depleted roster that lost even more talent over the break. Star cornerback Asante Samuel Jr, running back La’Damian Webb, and a few other players elected to opt-out for the remainder of the season, meaning the team will be without its best overall player on defense and most consistent player on offense in these final two games. The coaching staff will be looking to the younger talent and, in some cases, walk-ons to step up at different spots.

The last time FSU and Duke matched up was in 2017, where a late Cam Akers touchdown run pushed the garnet and gold to victory.

The ‘Noles and Blue Devils will kick-off at 4 p.m. on the ACC Network.

Seminole Headlines:

Seminoles prepare to take the field for the first time in 28 days

If it feels like it’s been a long time since Florida State played, you’re not exactly wrong. It’s been basically a month since the Seminoles’ last game but it feels even longer since you normally wouldn’t have a break like this during the season. However, in the world of COVID-19, nothing is normal and the landscape is consistently shifting. We’ve seen a multitude of teams deal with outbreaks and schedule changes. It’s just one more piece of adversity that 2020 is throwing at us.

Regardless, this is an opportunity for this program to begin to get back on track as we near the end of Mike Norvell’s first season as head coach. Playing well and winning these last two games would provide a sense of optimism for both the players and the fanbase as we move into the offseason. It all will start on offense for the Seminoles with Jordan Travis taking back over at quarterback. He’s dealt with a concussion and broken finger in recent weeks but he’s back healthy enough to get the start.

With La’Damian Webb gone, FSU will turn to Jashaun Corbin and Lawrance Toafili against a Duke defense that has been susceptible against the run. Travis should also be productive on the ground but he’ll need to stay alert in the pocket. The Blue Devils have recorded 30 sacks in 10 games and have a pair of defensive ends, Victor Dimukeje and Drew Jordan, that could cause some disruption.

Florida State and Duke look to end multi-game losing streaks

Both of these teams enter this game with a sour taste in their mouths. This season hasn’t gone how either Florida State or Duke imagined when things kicked off back in September. Currently, they are each are on three-game losing streaks. For the Blue Devils, this is the last game they’ll play in 2020 and you can bet they want to enter the offseason with some optimism.

As for the Seminoles, three straight blowout losses pushed their record to 2-6, but after a couple of weeks off, there’s some renewed energy around this program. Having a healthy Jordan Travis on offense and Hamsah Nasirildeen on defense will be helpful as FSU looks to win a football game for the first time since October 17. That’s 55 days without a W.

One thing’s for sure, either FSU or Duke will snap its losing streak tomorrow afternoon.

Burning Questions:

Who will win the turnover battle?

The Blue Devils have done a poor job of taking care of the ball this season, to say the least. Duke is the worst team in the country in turnover margin at -17 (yeah, you’re reading that correctly). They’ve lost 19 fumbles and thrown 16 interceptions while forcing just 18 turnovers of their own. Last week, David Cutcliffe’s team lost four fumbles in a blowout loss to Miami.

Winning the turnover battle is going to be crucial, as it’ll likely be the difference in whichever team is able to pull out a victory.

Can FSU’s offensive line stop the Duke pass rush? 

Duke doesn’t do very many things well on defense but they can generate a solid pass-rush led by defensive ends Victor Dimukeje and Drew Jordan. The Blue Devils have racked up 30 sacks so far this season and will look to take advantage of a mediocre FSU offensive line that is without its best player.

The Seminoles could also be starting two true freshmen along the offensive line in Robert Scott Jr and Thomas Shrader. Offensive line coach Alex is going to have his work cut out for him.


I’m a “show me, don’t tell me” type of guy and it’s simple. Florida State hasn’t shown that it can play consistently throughout the course of a game all season, the defense has been burned no matter the quality of the opponent, and the offensive line has dropped off drastically without Devontay Love-Taylor.

I think this ends up being a close game one way or another but the Seminoles haven’t given me much reason to be confident in them. Duke edges it out.

Duke 28, FSU 27

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