An impressive ground attack seems to give Florida State a good chance to extend its longest ACC winning streak in more than a decade.
The eighth-ranked Seminoles seek their eighth straight conference victory Saturday when they visit a Boston College team that has had a difficult time stopping the run.
A week after rushing for 377 yards in a 62-7 victory over Nevada, Florida State (3-0, 1-0) ran for 266 more in last Saturday's 54-6 win over Bethune-Cookman. With a trio of dynamic weapons in the backfield, the Seminoles rank third in the nation with a 7.2 yard-per-carry average and among the top 20 in rushing yards per game (266.3) and rushing touchdowns (11).
That's been a key factor in them putting up the fifth-best scoring average in the FBS at 52.3 per game, though the competition now gets tougher as Florida State begins a seven-game stretch against ACC foes. The Seminoles play unbeaten Maryland and third-ranked Clemson following this visit to Boston.
Devonta Freeman seeks his third straight 100-yard effort after running for 112 yards and one touchdown last week. The junior has a team-best 273 yards and ranks ninth in the FBS with 9.8 per carry.
Freeman has led Florida State on the ground in each of its last two meetings with the Eagles (2-1, 1-0). He rushed for 70 yards on eight carries in last season's 51-7 home win after getting 62 yards and two scores on 12 attempts in a 38-7 win at Boston College in 2011.
Fellow tailback James Wilder, Jr. caught two TD passes in last year's matchup, and he's rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Karlos Williams has given the running game a spark since switching from defense after the season-opening win over Pittsburgh. In his two games in the backfield, Williams has rushed for 193 yards and three scores while ranking fifth in the nation with 11.4 yards per carry.
"I've always had three guys wherever I've ever been," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "It takes that. People don't understand the pounding running backs take. And then the style of a particular play or what play you're featuring that week.
"You feature what each of them does best, but all of them will get their touches."
Another big day on the ground could help Florida State extend a seven-game win streak in ACC play, its longest since an eight-game run bridging the 2001 and 2002 seasons. The current streak includes last year's ACC title game win over Georgia Tech.
Freshman Jameis Winston has only appeared in one victory during this run in ACC play, but it was an impressive performance as he went 25 of 27 for 356 yards with four TDs against Pitt. He's the second-highest rated passer in the FBS, completing a nation-best 78.1 percent of his attempts while throwing for eight scores and one interception.
Fisher's squad, though, is likely to continue leaning on the run as it seeks a fourth straight win over Boston College. The Eagles have had some extra time to work on their defensive issues after allowing 257 rushing yards in a 35-7 loss at USC on Sept. 14.
"We have to play great defense, get field position and run the ball well," said first-year coach Steve Addazio, who is trying to fix the FBS' 10th-worst run defense from 2012 (213.3 ypg).
Boston College is led offensively by senior Andre Williams, who tops the ACC in rushing yards (356) despite being held to 38 on 17 carries by the Trojans.
Williams had a better performance in the most recent meeting with the Seminoles when he rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries in Tallahassee last October. Florida State ranked third in the nation against the run at 92.3 yards per game last year.
"Tackling is going to be critical and being physical is going to be critical," Fisher said. "We're going to have to control the line of scrimmage."
Since completing 23 of 30 for 285 yards in Week 1, Chase Rettig has gone 18 of 38 for 206 yards in his last two games. Now the senior faces a Florida State defense that has held its last two opponents to a combined 146 yards passing and 13 points.
Seminoles linebacker Christian Jones and defensive end Eddie Goldman are expected to play after missing last Saturday's win due to a violation of team rules. Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., is probable because of a hand injury, but starting safety Tyler Hunter, who has eight tackles and an interception, will not play due to a neck injury.
Top 25 Overview
After back-to-back blowouts against nonconference foes, Florida State begins the meat of its ACC schedule this week when it travels to Boston College. The Eagles already have matched their win total of 2012 and boast a running game, led by Andre Williams, that has FSU's attention. New BC coach Steve Addazio is familiar with the Seminoles from his time as an assistant at Florida, but Jameis Winston and an FSU running game averaging 7.2 yards per carry will provide the Eagles an enormous challenge.