Five things you should know about Georgia Tech-Florida State

The Seminoles enter the game with a record (4-3, 2-3) that may be against their capacity. FSU is ranked No. 20 by ESPN’s Football Power Index and No. 34 by Football Outsiders. The Seminoles have lost their last three but held off No. 10 Wake Forest 19-17 en route to No. 24 NC State and then 34-28 at No. 4 Clemson. FSU also beat No. 18 LSU in New Orleans.

The Seminoles also rank second in the ACC in total offense (465 yards per game) and third in total defense (332 yards per game). The 133-yard differential is the widest in the ACC.

Quarterback Jordan Travis is a dual-threat with compact movement that can make a tech pay if he’s not aware of his ability as a runner.

“He’s really good from the pocket, he does a good job of looking down the field,” linebacker Ayinde Eley said. “He throws the ball pretty good on the run. He’s a good player, a playmaker.”

The Seminoles can welcome back defensive tackle Fabien Lovett, arguably the team’s best linebacker, after he sat out the last five games with a lower-body injury.

Calculated during the game

Especially with the quarterback situation uncertain, the Jackets will need their running game. After posting a combined 412 rushing yards in wins over Pittsburgh and Duke, Tech managed just 56 in last week’s loss to Virginia (including 50 yards lost on eight sacks).

It helped that Sims weren’t available for most of the game, and when they were, they weren’t at 100%. The onus will fall on the offensive line, backing up Dontae Smith, Hassan Hall and Dylan McDuffie to combat an FSU defense that will likely be loaded to stop the run.

Interim coach Brent Key said the line played hesitantly against Virginia and tried to be perfect in their game, an approach that invites failure for linemen.

“That’s what I was talking about,” Key said. “No matter who’s playing football, it’s everybody else around them, whether it’s a different linebacker — and a different linebacker, obviously it’s a lot more emphasized when the quarterback is different — but everybody else has to raise their game around them and don’t play hesitantly, don’t hesitantly.”

Florida State has allowed big rushing games this season. Louisville, Wake Forest, NC State and Clemson ran for 167 yards or more, though only Louisville averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry.

Dry in the red zone

Another aspect of the game where the Jackets offense must be effective is in the red zone. In 24 red-zone possessions this season, the Jackets have scored touchdowns on seven of them, and three have come against FCS Western Carolina. Tech’s 29.2% touchdown rate on red zone possessions is the lowest in the FBS. It’s an area where the Jackets have struggled throughout former coach Geoff Collins’ tenure.

Against Virginia, the key point was the Jackets’ inability to get into the end zone late in the first half after having a first-and-10 at the Cavaliers’ 17-yard line. After Zach Gibson threw incomplete on third-and-1 from the Virginia 8, Tech kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 13-9 and miss a chance to tie the score.

The Jackets’ scoring woes might not be as pressing if volume wasn’t an issue. The 24 trips in the red zone are among the fewest in the FBS.

Huge improvement for the third down defense

A stellar third-down performance against Virginia (2-for-14) moved the Jackets defense to 40th in the FBS in defensive third-down conversion rate at 34.3%. In the previous three seasons, Tech finished no better than 108. That speaks to better defensive coordination from Andrew Thacker and better play on the field.

“It was definitely good for me to be able to have these (defensive) guys in the backfield as fast as they are,” cornerback Zamari Walton said. “We need them to get back there to cover and we need to hold it for them to get to the quarterback and get sacks. So we’re all just working with each other.”

According to, Tech’s defensive pass completion rate — 68.4% — ranks third in the FBS. Tech quarterbacks’ totals in hurries and pass breakups on all downs — 43 — are four times shy of the team’s total for all of last season.

Florida State ranks 24th in the FBS in conversion rate, down a third at 47.8%.

Nail biter chain

Tech’s visit to Tallahassee will be his second in three years. The Jackets opened the 2020 season at Doak Campbell Stadium with a 16-13 win that was interrupted by a lightning strike. It was Tech’s first trip to Tallahassee since 2009, when the Jackets won a 49-44 thriller that was also delayed by lightning.

Three head-to-head games also produced memorable results, even though the weather didn’t interrupt any of them – a 21-15 loss to Tech in the 2012 ACC Championship game, a 37-35 loss to the Seminoles in the 2014 ACC Championship game and the 22-16 “Miracle on Techwood Drive” game in 2015 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The latest matchup in the series laments that Tech and FSU were not annual opponents in the ACC schedule model that begins in 2023. Tech has Clemson, Wake Forest and Louisville. Florida State has Miami, Clemson and Syracuse. In the four-year schedule model, the Jackets and Seminoles will play in 2024 in Atlanta and in 2026 in Tallahassee.


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