The season’s first match up of top 10 teams includes two of the nation’s top scoring offenses as the second-ranked Florida State Seminoles travels to take on the tenth ranked Louisville Cardinals on Saturday at 12:00 EST. Both teams are lead offensively by standout underclassmen quarterbacks. For the Seminoles, red-shirt freshman Deondre Francois looks to add another big name win to his resume, while sophomore Lamar Jackson will try and cement his name in the Heisman race by putting up video game numbers against a talented Seminoles defense.
Florida State vs Louisville Preview
Florida State blew out a Charleston Southern team dealing with injuries and NCAA suspensions 52-8. Francois threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns, Dalvin Cook added two rushing touchdowns, and Jesus Wilson returned a punt for a touchdown in the route of the Buccaneers.
Defensively, the Seminoles forced three turnovers. The biggest negative of the game was losing safety Derwin James to a knee injury. The star sophomore tore his meniscus and will be sidelined for the next 5-7 weeks.
Louisville opened up ACC play last week by crushing Syracuse 62-28. Lamar Jackson accounted for 610 yards of total offense and five touchdowns in the victory. Running back, Brandon Radcliff, added 156 yards and a touchdown and receivers Brian Quick and Jamari Staples combined for 244 receiving yards and a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals were able to force two turnovers and held the Orange to 121 rushing yards.
Florida State Wins If…
Florida State has to control the tempo offensively. The Seminoles can strike quickly but that also ensures that Jackson gets the ball more. Florida State must lean heavily on Dalvin Cook to sustain drives and dominate the time of possession. Under center, Francois needs to keep his composure in hostile territory. He was able to lead the comeback against Ole Miss by making smart throws and hitting check down receivers when forced to. He must have that same mentality against Louisville. In his first true road game, eliminating the crowd is imperative. A long, 14-play, opening touchdown drive can do just that. Also, Louisville has made its fair share of mistakes offensively. Florida State must turn those turnovers into points if they want to win.
Defensively, the Seminoles need to eliminate the big play. Coverage busts plagued Florida State early against Ole Miss. Lamar Jackson can and will take advantage of any wide open opportunities presented to him. Jackson will still find a way to make big plays when everything is covered. The Seminoles do not need to do him any favors by forgetting to cover someone.
Louisville Wins If…
The Cardinals need to keep the pedal to the medal. Offensively, Jackson needs to take advantage of Derwin James not being on the field. Florida State has given up several big plays in the secondary and Louisville must capitalize. Louisville also needs to avoid turnovers. The Cardinals are giving the ball away three times a game. Florida State is more than capable of turning those turnovers into points. Finally, Louisville needs to continue to run up the score if it gets ahead. Bobby Petrino knows all too well about the ability of the Seminoles to eliminate deficits under Jimbo Fisher. In fact, the last time Florida State traveled to Louisville, the Seminoles came back from being down 21-0 en route to a 42-31 win.
On defense, Devonte Fields and company need to keep up the pressure on Francois. Francois struggled early against Ole Miss mainly due to the Rebels’ front seven dominating the line of scrimmage. He has forced throws this year that opponents have not turned into interceptions. If Louisville can rattle him early and win the turnover battle, then they can come away with a win.
Florida State will be without Derwin James because of the meniscus injury. Also, sophomore end, Josh Sweat, will play but tweaked his knee in practice this week.
As for Louisville, wide out Ja’Quay Savage will be out nursing a shoulder injury.
This game has all the makings of an epic slug fest. Expect a bunch of points on both sides of the ball. Lamar Jackson will put on a show but Florida State should be able to counter and leave with a narrow victory.
FSU 45 – UL 41