Nov. 7, 2012
ROANOKE, Va. -- Along with the Clemson and Florida games, this Thursday-night contest against Virginia Tech has been circled on Florida State's calendar the moment the 2012 schedule was released earlier this year.
The game against the Tigers would provide an opportunity to knock off the Atlantic Coast Conference's defending champion and the game against the Gators would provide the opportunity to push FSU's win-streak over its biggest rival to three games. The game against the Hokies? Well, that one would be the measuring stick for a Seminoles (8-1, 5-1 ACC) squad on a journey back to conference supremecy.
And while Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3) has taken a step back this season as the No. 6/8 'Noles have taken a step forward, the 7:31 p.m. contest in the cold and under the lights on ESPN still provides that barometer. Florida State may be on the outside looking in at the national title race but a win inside the notoriously-rowdy Lane Stadium in front of the nation does more than just keep the Seminoles in the ACC's driver's seat; it sends a statement that the 'Noles are indeed the league's top team -- both home and away.
"They play good on Thursday nights; especially at home," FSU junior defensive end Bjoern Werner said. "It's that game. The ACC always plays on Thursday nights. I heard it's crazy over there at Virginia Tech in their stadium; especially on Thursday night. So it's going to be a great challenge."
Werner's right; Virginia Tech is very good in its own stadium in these types of games.
Backed by one of the nation's best game-day atmospheres and crowds, the Hokies are 11-3 all-time in Thursday-night home contests on ESPN. More daunting is the fact that Virginia Tech is 27-3 in any November ACC games since it joined the league in 2004.
"I know one thing, they'll be ready to play on Thursday night," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We've just got to be ready."
And that means being prepared to slow down massive Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas, who is 9-1 all-time as the starter in home games and currently leads the team in rushing and passing, and out-play a Virginia Tech defense that is 4th in the ACC in yards allowed.
The Seminoles also have to consider themselves. FSU has had no trouble dominating opponents in the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium this season but the same hasn't been true in three road games. While the 'Noles have a minimum of six touchdowns in every game in Tallahassee, they've only scored six combined touchdowns in games at USF, NC State and Miami.
Of course that game against the Wolfpack is the one that derailed Florida State's national championship dreams as the Carter-Finley Stadium crowd helped contribute to a scoreless second-half performance for the 'Noles in a 17-16 loss. FSU will face those same hostile-environment demons and then some in Virginia.
A well-timed bye should help in that task as the Seminoles were able to use the off weekend to get some much-needed rest and some extra time to prepare.
"It's going to be a great test coming off a bye," FSU redshirt senior quarterback EJ Manuel said. "I know in years past we haven't done well coming off the bye week [FSU is 0-2 after byes under Fisher] so we have that in mind. We are going to come out there an respect ourselves and give Virginia Tech our best 'A' game."