Louisville (2-3) vs. Florida State (5-0) 12:00 pm
Teams met last year in Louisville and Florida State pulled out the 42-31 road victory. The Seminoles trailed by a score of 21-7 at halftime before pulling away in the fourth quarter to get the win. Florida State outscored the Cardinals 35-10 in the second half of the game.
The Cardinals have struggled to find offensive consistency this year and are averaging 27.4 points per game. Louisville is averaging 163 rushing yards per game and is passing for 224 yards per game with an inexperienced group of younger skilled players this season. The revolving chair of quarterbacks has not helped the situation as head coach Bobby Petrino has often split time with multiple quarterbacks. The good news for the Cardinals is that they do have an extra week of preparation for this game which should help the team from an offensive perspective. Freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson will be facing a solid Seminoles defense and he will need to make plays with his arm for Louisville to get the road win. On the year, Jackson has completed 53.6% of his passes for 598 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Jackson is a dual threat as he can break contain and make plays with his feet on the perimeter of opposing defenses. As a team, Louisville is completing 54.8% of their passes and part of the problem with consistency has come from the inexperience at the wide receiver position. Gone from last year’s group are DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers and Gerals Christian which accounted for 120 receptions 1,764 yards and 13 touchdowns. This year, the leading receivers are two freshman wide receiver Jaylen Smith and tight end Micky Crum. Smith has 13 receptions for 214 yards with no touchdowns and Crum has 13 receptions for 161 yards with 2 touchdowns. Louisville will need to find ways to stretch the Florida State defense vertically to take the pressure off of the offensive line. This unit has struggled and has allowed 17 sacks through 5 games this year.
Defensively, the Cardinals have steady yielding 20.2 points per game. The Cardinals are giving up 146 rushing yards per game and 177 yards through the air this season. The team is very solid at the linebacker position with Keith Kelsey and James Burgess being the emotional leaders of the defense. Both players are fast and can make plays from sideline to sideline. Kelsey leads the team with 44 total tackles and Burgess is second on the team with 43 total tackles. In order to get the road victory on Saturday, the Cardinals must force Seminoles quarterback Everett Golson to beat them over the top. Louisville must contain Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who has been carrying the team on his shoulders accounting for 80% of the Seminoles offensive production. Louisville must be able to force pressure on Golson in passing situations. The team has 10 total sacks as a unit through the first five games this year. Turnovers will be critical to pull off the upset and the Cardinals are +2 in turnover margin this season.
The Seminoles have been living dangerously by relying on running back Dalvin Cook to carry the load. On the year, Florida State has averaged 32.0 points per game and is rushing for 203 yards per game. Cook has averaged an amazing 9.0 yards per carry with 8 touchdowns on the ground and was a main reason why the Seminoles beat in-state rival last week 29-24 in Tallahassee. Cook rushed for 222 yards last week against the Hurricanes along with two touchdowns on the ground to seal the victory at home for Florida State. Quarterback Everett Golson is starting to get more acclimated in the system and has completed 66.9% of his passes for 1,077 yards with 8 touchdowns with no interceptions. Golson has made solid decisions and has shown leadership in the huddle this year. Golson is a mobile quarterback that can bide time in the pocket and has shown great poise by not forcing passes into coverage. However, he will need to step up this weekend and throw down the field to loosen up the Cardinals front seven. Wide receivers Jesus Wilson and Travis Rudolph will have to make plays down the field to force Louisville out of keying on Dalvin Cook. Wilson leads the team with 20 receptions for 256 yards with 2 touchdowns and Rudolph has 23 receptions for 239 yards with 2 touchdowns. On the year, the Seminoles are averaging 229 passing yards per game and look for a better output this Saturday at home against a solid Louisville defense.
The Seminoles have been stellar on the defensive side of the ball and have carried the team through critical games this season. On the year, Florida State is yielding 14.0 points per game and is very solid in run support giving up 116 yards per game. Linebacker Reggie Northrup is an active player that is leading the team with 33 total tackles. Look for defensive coordinator Charles Kelly to utilize Northrup on blitz packages this weekend to put pressure on a suspect Louisville offensive line. Through 5 games, Florida State has 10 total sacks and will need to create pressure to get the home win. The Seminoles are +5 in turnover margin and have done a good job of being able to force turnovers at key moments in games this year (Boston College fumble recovery for a touchdown). Defensive back Jalen Ramsey is a ball hawk who will be a key component to the defensive strategy this weekend and look for him to be utilized in blitz packages up on the line of scrimmage to force Jackson to read pass coverages. The Seminoles are allowing 193 passing yards per game.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor at www.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: