On paper, Florida State and Virginia Tech are similar teams -- the Seminoles and Hokies are two of the ACC’s highest scoring offenses and two of the stingiest scoring defenses. They both have veteran quarterbacks and depth at running back. They also both have playmakers on defense. It should be a great matchup in Saturday’s ACC championship game. Here are five more things to watch:
Run defenses. Virginia Tech has the nation’s No. 17 rushing offense, averaging more than 200 yards per game, and the mobility of quarterback Tyrod Taylor will be tough for FSU to contain. The Hokies’ three tailbacks have combined for 29 touchdowns this year. Virginia Tech’s run defense has been average, though, and the Seminoles have gained major yardage from their running game. Of FSU’s 35 plays of more than 25 yards this season, 17 have been produced by the running game. The Noles’ backs have been banged up, but Chris Thompson, the healthiest of the bunch, leads with 57.2 yards per game.
Quarterback Christian Ponder vs. Virginia Tech’s secondary. The Hokies have the ACC’s No. 2 pass defense and pass defense efficiency. The Hokies lead the ACC with 20 interceptions, and cornerback Jayron Hosley leads the nation with eight. He’s one shy of the school single-season record of nine set by Ron Davidson in 1967. In the past five games, Virginia Tech has had 12 interceptions.
Florida State’s front four vs. FSU quarterback Tyrod Taylor. When these teams played for the ACC title in 2005, Florida State sacked elusive Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick six times and also recorded eight tackles for loss. This time, Taylor must escape a defense that ranks first nationally in total sacks (43), second nationally in sacks per game (3.58), 13th in total tackles for loss (86), and 15th in tackles for loss per game (7.17). The Hokies are No. 63 in the country in sacks allowed with 23.
FSU on third and fourth downs. The Seminoles lead the ACC in third-down conversions and are No. 17 in the country in third-down conversion percentage, having been successful 48.43 percent of the time (77 of 159). Virginia Tech, though, has one of the best third-down defenses, as the Hokies are No. 14 in the country, holding opponents to 33.91 percent on their third-down conversions. FSU is also a perfect 6-for-6 on fourth downs this year.
Red zone efficiency. Virginia Tech and Florida State are two of the country’s best inside the 20-yard line. Virginia Tech is No. 11 in red-zone efficiency defense and No. 13 in red zone offense. FSU is No. 17 in red-zone efficiency defense and No. 27 in red-zone offense.