Seminoles must contain Hagans

Scouts, Inc., examines the Virginia-Florida State matchup and sees the Cavaliers winning a thriller.

Originally Published: October 14, 2004
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
The Cavaliers enter this annual meeting with the better national ranking for the first time ever, in a series the Seminoles lead 11-1. Florida State's first ACC loss came at Virginia in a 33-28 upset on November 2, 1995. Florida State is 49-1 in ACC games at Doak Campbell, with their only loss coming against N.C. State on November 10, 2001.

Who: Virginia (6) vs. Florida State (7)
When: Sat., 7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL

This is an opportunity for Al Groh's program to establish itself as a legitimate conference and national title contender. The Cavaliers have rolled through their first five games, beating five inferior teams by a combined total of 212-58, but they will get their toughest challenge to date when they travel to Tallahassee.

Florida State had no time to iron out the wrinkles with a season-opener at Miami. While the 'Noles came up empty handed for the sixth consecutive time against their in-state rivals, they haven't lost since.

The storyline has to center around the quarterbacks. Both teams have great depth at running back, excellent talent on defense and solid special teams' units. As a result, Saturday's game between Virginia and Florida State should be decided by the play of inexperienced youngsters Marques Hagans (UVA) and Wyatt Sexton (FSU).

While Hagans made the move from wide receiver last season to starting quarterback this season, the move was anticipated because of the graduation of Matt Schaub. Hagans has been brilliant, as he ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency.

Sexton's emergence has been far more surprising, as he took over for the injured Chris Rix just two weeks ago. With a 2-0 record as a starter and four touchdowns passes compared to just two interceptions in the last three games, Sexton became head coach Bobby Bowden's choice to start over Rix, who is considerably more gifted and less reliable.

If the Cavaliers pull off the upset, it will set up a potentially showdown of unbeaten teams when Virginia faces Miami at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville on November 13th. If the 'Noles take care of business in their own backyard, they will remain just one game behind Miami in the conference title race.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer