For just the second time this season, No. 6 Florida State will face a true road test on Thursday night when it travels to Blacksburg, Va. to take on Virginia Tech. The Hokies are just 4-5 this season, but are 4-0 at Lane stadium.
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech
7:30 p.m. kickoff (ESPN):
No. 6 FSU (8-1, 6-1 ACC) vs.
Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3 ACC).
Lane Stadium/Worsham Field
FSU leads all-time series 22-12-1
Lane Stadium seats just 65,632 fans, but is considered one of the most raucous environments in all of college football, especially on a Thursday night. FSU has only faced one true road test thus far in 2012 (Miami and South Florida each had large contingents of Seminole fans on hand), a 17-16 loss to North Carolina State in Raleigh.
"It's a great atmosphere," said FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher. "It's one of the bigger and louder ones [in the ACC] for sure. Their folks get real behind things, especially on Thursday nights. We were up there on a Saturday a couple years ago and it got pretty loud - great atmosphere. They've always had great tradition."
Under Fisher, FSU is just 8-5 on the road (2-1 this season). Despite the loss at N.C State, Fisher thinks this team is mature enough to handle a tough environment in Blacksburg.
"That's where I think maturity comes in and we've been on the road already a few times, so I think that will help out a little bit," he said. "We've just got to revert back and communicate."
In addition to a rowdy crowd, FSU will also have to stay focused against a Hokie team with its back against the wall. VT needs to win two of its final three games to become bowl-eligible for a 20th consecutive season.
When toe meets leather on Thursday night, FSU knows they likely won't see a Virginia Tech team that resembles a 4-5 record. Instead they expect to see what many believed the Hokies would be in the preseason.
"We'd be fools to think that we are not going to get their best game of the year," said FSU quarterback EJ Manuel. "They may have played not as good as they usually played in years past but I don't think we are going to see the same team that we see on film the past couple of weeks.
"We are going to see a great team, extreme energy, guys flying around getting to the ball fast. That's what I have been telling my teammates, we have been stressing that all week. We have had some great practices, which I am very confident about and proud of but I know that we are going to get their 'A' game this coming Thursday."
Manuel said that a quick start on Thursday could be FSU's best chance to combat a fired up Hokies' team. The Virginia native, pointed to FSU's quick starts at home in blowout victories over the likes of Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College as the biggest difference of playing at home and on the road for FSU this season.
Fisher agrees with Manuel that a quick start would be huge for the Seminoles on the road against VT.
"It gives you confidence on the road and you put pressure on people if you can do that," Fisher said. "Whether you're at home or on the road you play well early you put pressure on people that makes them have to match you or do things and puts urgency on them. It's always important. I don't think you ever win a game in the first five minutes but I think you can set a tone for it and dictate how it goes."
No matter how things go for FSU early on Thursday, offensive tackle Cameron Erving said that communication will be the only thing that matters in hostile Lane Stadium.
"We just have to stay together and play together," Erving said. "That's point-blank period, end of the discussion right there. We just have to stick together and play together as a team, because nobody in that stadium wants us to win this game. We just have to play together."
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