LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When Florida State’s 2016 football schedule came out earlier this year, the Seminoles’ Week 3 visit to Louisville stood out as one of the key matchups of the ACC season. Fast forward a few months, and now FSU-UL is shaping up as perhaps one of college football’s marquee games of the year. There will be two top-10 rankings, at least two Heisman Trophy candidates on the field and, thanks to the presence ESPN’s College Gameday pregame show and a national broadcast on ABC, plenty of limelight for each team. With that in mind, here’s a look at the names, numbers and notes you need to know before the Seminoles take on the Cardinals.
No. 2 Florida State (2-0, 0-0 ACC) at No. 10 Louisville (2-0, 1-0 ACC)
When/Where: Saturday, noon/Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (55,000) in Louisville, Ky.
TV/Radio: ABC/Seminole IMG Radio Network; FSU Broadcast Live Stream
Florida State injury report:
QB Sean Maguire (foot)
Out For Game
WR Ja’Vonn Harrison (migraine)
OL Derrick Kelly (knee)
OL Corey Martinez (knee)
DT Darvin Taylor (shoulder)
DE Keith Bryant (foot)
DB Derwin James (knee)
Out For Season
WR George Campbell (core muscle)
Coach: Bobby Petrino (60-18 in seven seasons at Louisville, 102-39 overall)
Last game: Louisville cruised to a 62-28 victory at Syracuse. Cardinals QB Lamar Jackson totaled 610 yards of offense and five touchdowns as UL opened its conference slate with a win.
Last game vs. Florida State: FSU scored five touchdowns in the second half to overcome an early deficit and dispatch the Cardinals, 41-21, at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU QB Everett Golson had perhaps his best game as a Seminole (26-38, 372 yards, 3 TDs) and RB Dalvin Cook added 163 yards and two scores on the ground.
Louisville vs. Florida State all-time: FSU leads the all-time series 14-2 and is 5-1 against the Cardinals in Louisville.
1952: Louisville 41, FLORIDA STATE 14
1953: FLORIDA STATE 59, Louisville 0
1954: Florida State 47, LOUISVILLE 6
1970: FLORIDA STATE 9, Louisville 7
1979: Florida State 27, LOUISVILLE 0
1980: FLORIDA STATE 52, Louisville 0
1981: FLORIDA STATE 17, Louisville 0
1982: FLORIDA STATE 49, Louisville 14
1983: FLORIDA STATE 51, Louisville 7
1986: Florida State 54, LOUISVILLE 18
1987: FLORIDA STATE 32, Louisville 9
1991: Florida State 40, LOUISVILLE 15
2000: FLORIDA STATE 31, Louisville 0
2002: LOUISVILLE 26, Florida State 20 (OT)
2014: Florida State 42, LOUISVILLE 30
2015: No. 8 FLORIDA STATE 41, Louisville 21
2016: No. 2 Florida State at No. 10 LOUISVILLE, Saturday, noon
One offensive and defensive player from each team who could swing the game
One offensive and defensive player from each team who could swing the game
Louisville: Jackson’s favorite target so far this season is senior receiver Jamari Staples, who ranks 18th in the nation with 109.5 receiving yards per game. At 6-foot-4, Staples will likely be a handful for Florida State’s defensive backs. And the Seminoles can’t focus solely on Staples, because James Quick, UL’s leading receiver from a year ago, is on the other side.
Louisville linebacker Keith Kelsey is one of the ACC’s top defenders, and he’s already off to a strong start with 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss despite abbreviated workloads in Louisville’s two blowout victories.
Florida State: Two factors here – guards Kareem Are and Wilson Bell, both of whom are expected to return from injuries this week. Are’s return means that, for the first time since the middle of fall camp, FSU will have its full complement of starting offensive linemen available. From left to right, expect FSU’s line to be Roderick Johnson, Are, Alec Eberle, Bell and Rick Leonard.
On defense, Matthew Thomas (who was the choice in this space last week) can introduce himself to the nation in a big way if he’s able to help keep Jackson in check. At 6-3, 227 pounds, Thomas has the size of a pro-level linebacker, but he also plays with the speed of a player much smaller player. Derwin James was expected to be FSU’s top “neutralizer” against Jackson. But with James unavailable, Thomas could make for a fine substitute.
Total offense: FSU: 509.0 YPG (28th nationally); UL: 754.0 YPG (1st)
Scoring offense: FSU: 48.5 PPG (14th); UL: 66.0 PPG (1st)
Passing offense: FSU: 344.0 YPG (15th); UL: 411.0 YPG (6th)
Rushing offense: FSU: 165.0 YPG (78th); UL: 343.0 (3rd)
Total defense: FSU: 337.0 YPG (56th); UL: 311.0 YPG (38th)
Scoring defense: FSU: 21.0 PPG (53rd); UL: 21.0 PPG (53rd)
Passing defense: FSU: 227.5 YPG (76th); UL: 226.5 YPG (72nd)
Rushing defense: FSU: 109.5 YPG (39th); UL: 84.5 YPG (23rd)
Number of note, courtesy of Pro Football Focus: With 1,015 total yards to his credit, Jackson has accounted for 67.4 percent of Louisville’s offensive output (1,506 total yards).
But due to the nature of UL’s blowout victories, Jackson has played for just 73 percent of the Cardinals’ offensive plays, which technically drives his output percentage even higher. Simply put: Jackson isn’t just the engine for the Cardinals’ offense. He is their offense.
“The kid is 17 years old. He’s not a legal adult yet so these guys are all hitting him and it’s illegal.” – FSU center Alec Eberle on freshman guard Landon Dickerson, who made his first career start last week
“It has to. If they don’t, we’ll keep taking the one on one battle with our receivers. And I love our receivers one on one.” – FSU running back Dalvin Cook when asked if Deondre Francois’ early success will force opposing defenses to focus more on defending the pass and, as a result, divert resources away from stopping Cook
“Our pride was hurt a little bit after the Florida State game last year on defense. We didn’t play the way we usually play.” – Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, whose Cardinals have squandered second-half leads against FSU in each of the last two seasons
“When you get your chance you can’t miss it. And that’s not only with (Lamar Jackson), that’s with every quarterback. Something Coach Lawing says: ‘You can’t miss your layups.’ Whenever you get a chance at a quarterback, you’ve got to take him down.” – FSU defensive end DeMarcus Walker on the importance of pressuring Lamar Jackson
“It’s always tough losing anybody in the secondary, but especially someone like (Derwin James) who brings kind of the juice and brings the vocal part of it. The young guys are doing a good job of stepping up. Us getting Nate (Andrews) back, that’s really good having him back. He’s moving around, looking good, making plays. He looked really good today. So we’re adjusting pretty well.” – FSU cornerback Marquez White on how the defense has adjusted without Derwin James
Louisville is synonymous with a few things: bourbon, baseball bats and boxing legends. But the city’s main event every year is the Kentucky Derby, the first and most famous of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Churchill Downs, site of the Derby, is not far from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. They opened a nice museum in the mid-1980s, and it does a great job documenting Louisville’s history with the “sport of kings.”
ESPN’s Andrea Adelson says that the emergence of Deondre Francois and Lamar Jackson gives the ACC an elite stable of quarterbacks.
Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat believes that adding Louisville two years ago was just what the ACC needed to boost its football cache.
Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 takes a look at sophomore safety A.J. Westbrook, who could be in line for increased playing time on Saturday.
ESPN’s Jared Shanker has a nice profile of Louisville lineman Lukayus McNeil, who is thriving at UL after difficult family circumstances and homelessness.
FSU and Louisville share a connection in beloved ESPN analyst Lee Corso. Corso graduated from Florida State and went on to coach at Louisville. Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal profiles Corso’s time at UL and writes that, clowning aside, the man could coach.
Florida State started the season with a challenge against Ole Miss and, less than two weeks later, it seems the Seminoles have an even bigger hill to climb. This might be the biggest home game in Louisville history and, noon kickoff aside, FSU might not face a tougher road atmosphere all season.
While they won’t fully shut down Jackson, the Seminoles at least can expect to give him a much tougher road than he’s traveled over his last two games. And the Seminoles can also help their cause by establishing their own running game and using an efficient, methodical offense to control the clock and keep Jackson on the sidelines.
There’s a good chance that either Jackson or FSU’s Cook will be the talk of the college football world once Saturday’s game is completed. If it’s Cook, the Seminoles likely will have won.