FSU vs. Ole Miss
Florida State’s three losses came to opponents with a combined record of 30-11 or .731 (Georgia Tech, Clemson and Houston). Ole Miss had wins in 2015 by an average margin of victory of 27.9 points per game. However, two of the teams three losses came on the road. The Rebels lost three games in 2015 by an average margin of defeat of 14.6 points per game.
Florida State averaged 31.7 points per game in 2015 and passed for 255 yards per game, while rushing for 168 yards per game. The Seminoles will be led by senior quarterback Sean Maguire who completed 59% of his passes for 1,520 yards with 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Maguire showed confidence down the stretch for the offense after taking over from former starter Everett Golson. Maguire will have the benefit of having Heisman Trophy candidate running back Dalvin Cook in the backfield. Cook rushed for 1,698 yards averaging 7.3 yards per carry with 19 touchdowns on the ground in 2015.
When looking at the Seminoles three losses last season, the offense struggled with consistency. Florida State rushed for 94 yards per game (70 vs Georgia Tech, 197 vs. Clemson and 16 vs. Houston) and passed for 2 touchdowns while throwing six interceptions in the team’s losses.
The offensive line also allowed 26 sacks through 13 games and must protect Maguire if the Seminoles are going to make a ACC title run. Another strength for the team entering this game will be the wide receiver corps. Travis Rudolph, Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson all return for the offense which should allow the Seminoles to stretch opposing secondaries vertically. All three players combined for 174 receptions for 2,336 yards with 16 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Seminoles allowed 17.5 points per game and yielded 145 rushing yards per game while giving up 191 passing yards per game to their opponents. The defensive front seven was solid last year and recorded 32 sacks as a unit. However, when looking at the team’s losses last year, the defense failed to shut down the run. In the three losses, the Seminoles allowed 221 rushing yards per game which was 76 yards more than their season average. The team struggled in creating turnovers as well. Florida State finished even in turnover margin and was -5 in turnover margin in those defeats. The past two seasons, the Seminoles have failed to be positve in turnover margin (2014 -6, even in 2015).
The Rebels averaged 40.8 points per game in 2015 and were led by standout quarteback Chad Kelly. Kelly will enter the 2016 season as a confident leader that played very well in big games last year. Kelly completed 65% of his passes for 4.042 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ole Miss had a very balanced offense in 2015. The Rebels rushed for 183 yards per game on the ground while passing for 334 yards per game. The offensive line played very well and allowed 19 sacks as a unit. In two of the Rebels three losses, the offense failed to run the football rushing for 69 yards to the Gators and 40 yards against the Memphis Tigers.
The Rebels will lose standout wide receiver Laquon Treadwell who led the team with 82 receptions for 1,153 yards with 11 touchdowns. However, offense utilized a number of players in the system and have depth entering the 2016 season.
Defensively, the Rebels allowed 22.6 points per game and was very solid in run support giving up 127 rushing yards to their opponents. The rush defense was the best total since the 2008 season when the Rebels allowed 86 rushing yards per game.
The secondary gave up 258 yards per game and was exploited in the team’s three losses allowing 13 passing touchdowns and 365 passing yards per game. More importantly, the 258 passing yards per game was the highest total for the Ole Miss defense since prior to 2008!
The team lost the turnover battle in two of the three losses and was -5 in turnover margin in those losses. On the year, Ole Miss finished the season even in turnover margin.
Kickoff returns were also a weak point for the Rebels last season. Ole Miss averaged 17.7 yards per return which was the team’s lowest total since prior to the 2008 season.
Joseph Lisi is a college football analyst and has hosted his own show on Yahoo Sports Radio Network called: Go For The 2 with Joe Lisi
He is former ABC Sports college football researcher and owner of www.Goforthe2.com. He is also the sports content editor for two-time Super Bowl Champion Mark Collins website called:www.2fivesports.com
He is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America), the Maxwell Football Club and the National Football Foundation. Jospeh is the Director of Communications for the NY Chapter of the National Football Foundation.
He has been featured on Yahoo Sports Radio, ESPN Radio, Sirius XM, The Sid Rosenberg Show (640 AM Sports) and The FNTSY Network.
Jospeh recently publised his own eBook on Amazon called: “From The Gridiron To The Sandbox”-Memoirs of A College Football Junkie which is availbe for purchase here: