November 3, 2017 - by
First and 10: Florida State vs. Syracuse

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.  – With a little extra time to prepare following a Friday night game at Boston College, Florida State returns home to Syracuse Orange on Saturday. Here are the names, numbers and notes you need to know before kickoff.

1. Game on

Florida State (2-5, 2-4 ACC) vs. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2)

When/Where: Saturday, 12:20 p.m./Doak Campbell Stadium (79,560)

TV/Radio: Raycom-ACC Network/Seminole IMG Radio Network/SiriusXM Ch. 193

Florida State injury report:
WR Keith Gavin (Leg) – QUESTIONABLE
DE Joshua Kaindoh (Ankle) – QUESTIONABLE
WR Auden Tate (Ankle) – QUESTIONABLE
RB Jacques Patrick (Knee) – OUT
DT Darvin Taylor (Shoulder) – OUT
DB A.J. Westbrook (Hip) – OUT

Out for Season
OL Landon Dickerson (Ankle)
QB Deondre Francois (Knee)
OL Baveon Johnson (Knee)
OL Jauan Williams (Shoulder)

2. Know Your Foe

Syracuse Orange
Coach: Dino Babers (8-12 in two seasons at Syracuse, 45-28 overall)
Last game: Syracuse put a scare into Miami but was undone by four turnovers in a 27-19 defeat in Miami Gardens on Oct. 21. The Orange had their open date last week.
Last game vs. Florida State: Dalvin Cook became Florida State’s all-time leading rusher during a 45-14 victory over the Orange at the Carrier Dome last season. Cook ran for 227 yards and four touchdowns while breaking the 20-year-old rushing record held by FSU Hall-of-Famer Warrick Dunn.

Syracuse vs. Florida State all-time:
Florida State leads the all-time series 9-1, and is 5-0 against the Orange in Tallahassee. The Seminoles haven’t lost to the Orange since their first meeting on Nov. 12, 1966.

1966: SYRACUSE 37, Florida State 21

1978: No. 17 Florida State 28, SYRACUSE 0

1989: No. 22 Florida State 41, No. 17 SYRACUSE 10

1991: No. 1 FLORIDA STATE 46, No. 10 Syracuse 14

2004: No. 8 Florida State 17, SYRACUSE 13

2005: No. 6 FLORIDA STATE 38, Syracuse 14

2013: No. 2 FLORIDA STATE 59, Syracuse 3

2014: No. 1 Florida State 38, Syracuse 20

2015: No. 17 FLORIDA STATE 45, Syracuse 21

2016: No. 17 Florida State 45, SYRACUSE 14

3. Storylines
  • What looked like a potential trap game when the schedule was released in February instead has turned into a critical contest for a Florida State team in need of a victory. The Seminoles host Syracuse looking for a win that would snap a two-game skid, keep alive hopes for a bowl game and a winning season, and provide a boost of confidence as the season heads toward the home stretch. 
  • Syracuse runs the fastest-paced offense that the Seminoles will see this season. The Orange’s hurry-up attack runs more than 89 plays per game, which is the most in the nation. Previous opponents Duke (14th), Boston College (17th), Louisville (29th) and NC State (48th) are all in the upper half of pace rankings as well. Not only do the Orange run as many plays as possible, but their defense is good about getting them extra possessions. Syracuse ranks second nationally in third-down defense, allowing just a 23.8-percent conversion rate.
  • The Seminoles may get some good news on the injury front this week, as coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed Thursday that sophomore receiver Keith Gavin practiced this week and is questionable to play against the Orange. Gavin is the team’s third-leading receiver (14 catches, 134 yards) despite missing the last three games with a leg injury.
4. Ones To Watch

Syracuse: Quarterback Eric Dungey isn’t just one of the top passers in the ACC, he’s one of the league’s most effective runners, too. The junior has thrown for 2,217 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding another 486 yards and eight TDs on the ground. Dungey has, however, tossed eight interceptions.

Senior linebacker Parris Bennett by far leads the Orange in tackles (75) and tackles for loss (7.5). Bennett and fellow senior linebacker Zaire Franklin form an experienced and productive tandem in the middle.

Florida State: The Orange are fairly tough against the run, but have been susceptible to passing attacks. With both Auden Tate and Keith Gavin questionable with injuries, Nyqwan Murray could potentially dominate targets when James Blackman drops back to throw. A big game for Murray would be in line with recent trends for the junior receiver, who has seen his output increase in each of the last four weeks – he had three catches for 39 yards against Miami, five for 81 at Duke, four for 95 and a touchdown against Louisville and three for 102 at Boston College.

Syracuse ranks near the bottom of the country in sacks allowed, which could make for a perfect time for FSU’s pass rush to kick things up a notch. That starts with junior defensive end Josh Sweat, who has a team-high 3.5 sacks this season and has sacks in two of his last three games.

First and 10: Florida State vs. Syracuse
5. Numbers To Know

Total offense: FSU: 346.6 YPG (110th nationally); SU: 455.0 YPG (29th)
Scoring offense:  FSU: 18.2 PPG (121st); SU: 29.9 PPG (59th)
Passing offense: FSU: 201.8 YPG (84th); SU: 295.4 YPG ( 21st)
Rushing offense: FSU: 144.8 YPG (84th); SU: 159.6 (71st)

Total defense: FSU: 330.6 YPG (28th); SU: 367.9 YPG (45th)
Scoring defense: FSU: 20.8 PPG (38th); SU: 24.6 P PG (53rd)
Passing defense: FSU: 216.0 YPG (59th); SU: 238.1 YPG (84th)
Rushing defense: FSU: 114.6 YPG (21st); SU: 129.8 YPG (33rd)

6. They Said It

“That’s one of the dumbest things I hear people say: ‘A guy is playing for the draft.’ If you’re playing for the draft, that means you’re playing your butt off. Because if you don’t play (well) on the film, you’re not going to get drafted. It doesn’t work that way. I hope they do play for the draft. What I mean by that, they play their tails off so they play well. That’s when you’re playing for the draft.” – FSU coach Jimbo Fisher on the notion that some players are allowing their professional aspirations to affect the way they’ve played this season

“It’s almost like a big brother playing ball with a little brother out on Thanksgiving. The big brother is having fun, the little brother is trying, but it doesn’t really make a difference. That’s what he looks like sometimes, like he’s a man among boys, and I think he’s a fantastic player.” – Syracuse coach Dino Babers on FSU receiver Auden Tate

“Keith’s a guy who will crawl into the foxhole with you. He doesn’t crawl out of the fox hole.” – Fisher on the toughness and spirit of receiver Keith Gavin, who is hoping to return to the lineup after working his way back from a leg injury

“There’s more confidence in the team. We go in with that mentality that we can punish all four of these teams, and not just win.” – Syracuse linebacker Zaire Franklin on the Orange’s mindset as it enters the last month of the season with a chance at bowl eligibility

7. Nole Notes
  • The Seminoles have converted 18 of their last 20 red-zone opportunities, and, since Fisher took over in 2010, are the best red-zone team in the country. FSU has converted at a .912 clip, more than a full point better than second-place Oklahoma State (.901). 
  • FSU started a true freshman at quarterback (James Blackman) and running back (Cam Akers) last week at Boston College, marking the first time that the Seminoles have done so since true freshmen became eligible in 1972. Blackman’s six starts this season are the most ever by a true freshman quarterback at FSU. 
  • Cam Akers is closing in on a top-five rushing season for an FSU freshman. With 496 yards through seven games, Akers needs 84 more to top Devonta Freeman, whose 579 yards as a freshman in 2011 are the fifth-most in school history. Dalvin Cook holds the record with 1,008 yards. 
  • FSU hasn’t lost to Syracuse since 1966, when future Hall-of-Famers Floyd Little and Larry Csonka combined for 258 rushing yards and four touchdowns. 
  • Syracuse can become the first team since North Carolina in 2010 to beat both Clemson and Florida State in the same season. 
  • Cuse receivers Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips have combined for 375 career receptions, more than any other active duo in the country. 
  • The Orange are allowing 24.6 points per game, a two-touchdown improvement over last season (38.6).
8. Watch And Learn

While Florida State and Syracuse don’t share an extensive history, the series has provided one of FSU’s most memorable trick plays – Terrell Buckley’s fake fair catch that play-by-play announcer Gene Deckerhoff dubbed “The Foola’ from Pascagoula.”

9. Further Reading
10. The Bottom Line

All the things that have been true throughout the last few weeks of the season are still true: Florida State has as much or more talent as anyone on its schedule, but, while the Seminoles have shown brief flashes of reaching their potential, they’ve yet to play a complete game in which their offense, defense and special teams are concurrently playing up to their own standards.

If the Seminoles can break through and do that on Saturday, then they should be able to handle Syracuse in a similar fashion to the way they’ve dispatched the Orange over the last four seasons.

Pick up a win, and FSU just might find that a little bit of positive momentum can go a long way, especially with a visit to Clemson looming next week.

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