Taggart’s debut: No. 19 Florida State hosts No. 20 Va. Tech
No. 20 Virginia Tech (9-4 last season) at No. 19 Florida State (7-6), Monday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Florida State by 7½.
Series record: Florida State leads 23-12-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Florida State opens the Willie Taggart Era with a top-25 matchup. It’s the first time since 2009, when the Seminoles played Miami that FSU has started the year at home against a Atlantic Coast Conference rival. Virginia Tech begins year three under coach Justin Fuente (19-8 at the school) and the Hokies make their first trip to Tallahassee since 2008.
Florida State’s running backs vs. Virginia Tech’s defense. The Seminoles have one of the ACC’s deepest backfields behind Cam Akers, Jacques Patrick and redshirt freshman Khalan Laborn. And Taggart’s spread offense has had 1,000-yard rushers at South Florida and Oregon. The Hokies were No. 2 in the ACC in run defense last season (123.1 yards per game), but lost eight defensive starters.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Virginia Tech: QB Josh Jackson. As a redshirt freshman, Jackson threw for 2,991 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 starts. He completed 59.6 percent of his passes and had a pair of 300-yard games, both in road wins (over East Carolina and Boston College).
Florida State: Akers. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound sophomore had four 100-yard rushing games, finishing with 1,024 yards (ninth-best in school history) and seven touchdowns. Akers averaged 5.3 yards per carry, breaking Dalvin Cook’s school record for a freshman.
FACTS & FIGURES
Fuente is 3-0 vs. Taggart as head coaches, with Fuente’s Memphis teams picking up wins in 2013-15 over Taggart’s USF teams. ... FSU is playing its third straight opener against a top-25 team. The Seminoles lost to No. 1 Alabama in 2017 in Atlanta and defeated No. 11 Ole Miss in 2016 in Orlando. . Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden and former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer will be honorary captains. . Florida State and Virginia Tech last played in 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Seminoles QB EJ Manuel connected with Rashad Greene for a 39-yard touchdown with 1:40 left as No. 8 Florida State escaped with a 28-22 win.
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