Here are five things to watch for when Duke and Florida State meet in tonight's ACC Championship Game.
1.) Can Duke Hang Tight Early?
If Florida State comes out early and hangs a couple of easy scores this one could get out of hand before the half. That's not a shot at Duke, either. FSU had the game well in hand on the road against Clemson by halftime too. If the Seminoles get hot early look out.
The key for Duke will be to hang tight early and try to frustrate Florida State into some costly errors. Again, no disrespect to Duke but the Blue Devils just cannot afford to get into a slugfest with a team that out-classes them in terms of talent. They need to play smart, make FSU drive the whole field for points, limit big plays and take advantage of their opportunities. If they can hang in the game until late, they will have a chance. If FSU jumps ahead early though, this one could be finished quickly.
2.) Does FSU Come Out With Their Foot on the Gas?
The Seminoles have the talent advantage on both sides of the ball. Whether or not they attempt to push that advantage early could determine a lot. If FSU comes out early and can take a few deep shots and hit on a big play or two it could serve to demean a very gritty Duke team. The Blue Devils will likely attempt to keep everything in front of them, give their secondary help and force the Seminoles to dink and dunk them. If FSU can blow that strategy up early, their offense could wreak havoc.
3.) Will the Weather Have an Impact?
It's overcast and cold in Charlotte. It's only going to get colder as the game continues too. Will that have any impact on FSU -- normally a warm weather team -- in the greater scheme of things?
"That’s just a mindset – you have to go play and it’s like that every year we play up there," said Jimbo Fisher. "It was like that way three years ago when we played Virginia Tech and we played pretty well. It was cool last year too, it wasn’t warm at all either and it’s just that time of year.”
4.) 1,000 Yards?
Several players have a chance to go over 1,000 yards on the season today. Rashad Greene is the closest, needing just 86 yards to reach the mark. Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin are both in the 800's and would need a huge day to reach the milestone. Meanwhile Devonta Freeman remains FSU's last best hope to be the first 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn. Freeman has 852 rushing yards, he needs 148 to hit 1,000. That being said, Freeman has only had more than 20 carries twice this season.
Florida State is 60 minutes from playing for a BCS title -- the last BCS title -- in Pasadena. It's been a long time coming for Seminoles fan. FSU hasn't played for a national title since 2000 and hasn't won one since 1999. Four short years ago the Seminoles started 2-4 -- including a loss to USF -- and had to scratch and claw just to finish over .500. WIth a good game tonight they could be 13-0 for the first time in school history.
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