In the 19th season of Atlantic Coast Conference Thursday Night Football on ESPN, Florida State and North Carolina will square off for the first time. It's also the first time UNC's Keenan Stadium has played host to a Thursday night game. Florida State is 5-4, for a winning percentage of .556, with eight of those games played on the road.
The Tar Heels also bring a competitive 4-2 record in ESPN Thursday Night games with the previous six being played away from home, including a neutral site game with rival NC State in Charlotte.
On This Date
October 22 has been a good day for FSU's football fortunes. The 'Noles are 7-2 all-time on this date, including 4-0 under Bobby Bowden. FSU has posted three shutout victories and two wins without allowing a TD on this date.
Seminoles Are Tested
FSU's 2009 football schedule has been as tough as advertised. The Seminoles' first six opponents boast a combined 31-8 record, which is even more impressive when you consider the five BCS opponents are 27-6. Three of those foes - No. 10 Miami (5-1), No. 12 Georgia Tech (6-1) and No. 16 BYU (6-1) - are ranked in the first Bowl Championship Series standings as well as the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls. USF (5-1) was nationally ranked before suffering its first loss to unbeaten Cincinnati last week, while Boston College (5-2) has consistently received top 25 votes. Even FCS opponent Jacksonville State (4-2) is enjoying its highest ranking (No. 12 FCS Coaches) in school history. Heading into tonight's game, Florida State is No. 5 nationally in strength of schedule according to CBS.com. None of that should come as a suprise. FSU's 11 FBS opponents made bowl appearances and combined for a 93-49 record last season - more than any FCS program in the country.
Through six games quarterback Christian Ponder continues to keep pace with the top Florida State passers in the ACC era. The current ACC leader in passing yards, Ponder ranks first among FSU quarterbacks in completions (147), ahead of Heisman Trophy winners Chris Weinke (2000) and Charlie Ward (1993). He's second in passing yards (1,781) and third in completion percentage (67.7) compared to his predecessors. In those three categories alone he's off to the best start by a FSU QB since Weinke's senior season. With at least six games to play, Ponder is close to shattering his 2008 season totals of 177 completions, 55.7 completion rate and 2,006 passing yards.
Not Half Bad
Consistency has been Ponder's calling card in a breakout junior season. No matter how you compare the redshirt junior's numbers - by quarter, half or game - he has been efficient across the board. Not suprisingly, when Ponder gets off to fast starts, as he did in the first quarter against Miami, BYU and Georgia Tech, the Seminole's offense is clicking at its best.