TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For the better part of 10 years, Florida State beat up Boston College time and again.
Well, payback has begun.
That started with last year’s 35-3 walloping the Eagles put on the Seminoles in Chesnut Hill, Mass. — the second-worst loss of then-head coach Jimbo Fisher’s eight years at the helm — and No. 20 Boston College will look to continue it Saturday when it travels to Tallahassee, Fla., for their annual ACC showdown.
The tables have certainly turned since the Seminoles (4-6, 2-5 ACC) won seven games in a row against the Eagles (7-3, 4-2) between 2010 and 2016, notching three ACC titles and one national championship during that span. Now, Boston College is the one enjoying a College Football Playoff ranking and a great ACC season, this despite coming off a 27-7 loss to No. 2 Clemson last weekend.
The Eagles enter the game as slight favorites Saturday — something they’ve never been in the history of the 16-game series that Florida State leads 11-5.
But don’t count Boston College coach Steve Addazio as one who’s drinking his own team’s Koolaid heading into this game. He still very much respects Florida State, even in a down year. That’s because he knows the Seminoles have extra motivation to win Saturday to keep their hopes alive to be bowl-eligible for a record 37th straight year.
“Playing a really talented football team, at home, highly motivated to be able to get to bowl eligibility,” Adazzio said of Florida State’s run of bowl games — a streak that will die if the Seminoles don’t win their final two games. “(They have) an offense that has a quarterback that has a great arm, great skilled player, and a defense that watching tape this week or Sunday and today, very few people have been able to get much going early in the game.”
The Florida State defense, which has given up a school-record 148 points in its last three games (all losses), will have a much easier task Saturday if two of Boston College’s primary offensive weapons — quarterback Anthony Brown (abdominal injury) and running back A.J. Dillon (ankle) — can’t go.
Adazzio told reporters Monday that Brown is “day-to-day” and that Dillon’s injury is “really honestly about the same as it’s been each week. I think he comes off the game, doesn’t feel great on Sundays and Mondays, and as the week goes on, we see improvement.”
Florida State, as a team, hasn’t felt great on Sundays or Mondays or just about any other day this season. With only four wins at this point a year ago under Fisher, it seemed highly improbable of a repeat scenario in year one when new coach Willie Taggart took over and rejuvenated hope in Tallahassee.
But here the Seminoles are, with a new coach in the same situation. Although, Taggart said he hasn’t given up hope of being their guy who turns things around. And more importantly, neither have his players.
“You got to be real with yourself and see what’s going on inside,” Taggart said. “And I think that’s why our guys are coming each week ready to practice and play. Guys are still working their tails off and trying to get it done and they see it and they know we can be so much better. So I don’t see anybody feeling that negativity, it’s easy to do that, but I don’t see anybody doing that here.
“We got a young football team and it’s important that we as coaches teach them how to win again. I know it’s going to turn and I know it’s frustrating for everyone, and trust me you’re guys are frustrated too and but we’re going to get there.”
Taggart hopes quarterback Deondre Francois is the one who gets them over the hump too. Taggart reiterated his support for the junior signal caller this week over backup James Blackman, saying, “Yes, (Deondre) is our quarterback.” This, despite the fact Francois struggled all night in a 42-13 blowout loss to No. 3 Notre Dame last week, while Blackman threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago against N.C. State.
Sure, the Wolfpack also beat the Seminoles easily 47-28, but Blackman’s game was the best any Florida State quarterback has had all year. Yet, Taggart sounded Monday like his mind was made up.
“Yeah, unless something dramatic happens, again, I don’t see no reason for him not to be our starter right now,” Taggart said. “Deondre is not the issue of what our football team; there’s a lot of other issues. He can’t block for himself, he can’t catch the ball, he can’t play special teams, he can’t tackle. He’s not the issue with our football team.”
After Boston College and Florida State meet Saturday, the Seminoles close out the regular season by hosting Florida at home Nov. 23. The Eagles, meanwhile, also wrap up their regular season next week when they host No. 12 Syracuse.