October 29, 2014 - by
First and 10: No. 2 Florida State at Louisville

No. 2 Florida State (7-0, 4-0 ACC) at Louisville (6-2, 4-2 ACC)

When/Where: Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (55,000)

TV/Radio: ESPN/Seminole IMG Radio Network (103.1 FM in Tallahassee)


Louisville Cardinals

Coach: Bobby Petrino (47-11 in five seasons at Louisville – 31-9 from 2003-06, 6-2 from 2014-present; 89-32 overall)

Last game: Louisville got 173 yards and a touchdown from running back Michael Dyer and an additional 132 yards from receiver DeVante Parker in a 30-18 win over North Carolina State on Oct. 18.

Last game vs. Florida State: The remnants of a tropical storm led to a rain-soaked Thursday-night contest on Sept. 26, 2002. FSU led by a touchdown at halftime, but Louisville came back to tie the game and, eventually, win 26-20 in overtime. Redshirt sophomore Chris Rix completed 14 of his 33 attempts for 173 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Receiver Talman Gardner caught both of Rix’s TD passes.

Louisville vs. Florida State all-time: FSU owns a 12-2 record against 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 at LOUISVILLE, Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.


  • Florida State meets Louisville for the 15th time in history, but the first time since 2002. The series is bookended by a pair of Cardinals wins in 1951 and 2002, with 12 straight FSU victories in between. It will be the ninth time FSU has been ranked when facing the Cardinals. Louisville has never been ranked when playing the Seminoles.

  • This will also be FSU’s 15thThursday-night game, FSU is 9-5 when playing on a Thursday; 2-under coach Jimbo Fisher.

Florida State on Thursday nights all time:

1983: FLORIDA STATE 51, Louisville 7

1995: VIRGINIA 33, Florida State 28

1996: Florida State 51, NC State 17

2000: FLORIDA STATE 59, Maryland 7

2002: LOUISVILLE 26, Florida State 20 (OT)

2002: FLORIDA STATE 48, Clemson 31

2004: Florida State 17, NC State 10

2006: NC STATE 24, Florida State 20

2007: WAKE FOREST 24, Florida State 21

2008: Florida State 26, NC STATE 17

2009: Florida State 30, NORTH CAROLINA 27

2010: NC STATE 28, Florida State 24

2011: Florida State 38, BOSTON COLLEGE 7

2012: Florida State 28, VIRGINIA TECH 22

2014: Florida State at LOUISVILLE, Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.

  • Louisville has one of the best defenses FSU will face this year. The Cardinals rank first in the country in total defense and rushing defense, second in pass-efficiency defense and third-down defense, and fourth in scoring defense. Louisville allows an average of just 14.6 points per game. FSU has scored at least 30 points in every game of quarterback Jameis Winston’s career.
  • Louisville’s Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium isn’t huge – it seats 55,000 – but it has proven to be challenge for opposing teams. U of L is 16-2 at home since 2012 and coach Bobby Petrino has won 22 straight home games, dating back to the end of his first stint with the Cardinals in 2006.
  • Something will have to give Thursday when FSU’s No. 1-ranked red zone offense goes up against U of L’s ninth-ranked red zone defense. The Seminoles are 33 of 34 (97 percent) in the red zone this season, and haven’t missed a red-zone opportunity since the season opener against Oklahoma State. Louisville, meanwhile, allows opponents to convert 70 percent of their red zone chances.
  • A knee injury suffered by U of L QB Will Gardner in September opened the door for freshman Reggie Bonnafon to spark the Cardinals’ offense. Bonnafon led Louisville to victories in two of his three starts and, while Gardner is back now, offensive coordinator Garrick McGee has indicated that both QBs will be a part of the offense moving forward. Gardner took all the snaps in U of L’s win over N.C. State, but Bonnafon still could find his way into the huddle on Thursday night. 


Players from each team who could swing the game

Louisville: Receiver DeVante Parker is a projected first-round draft pick who spent the first seven weeks of the season sidelined by a foot injury. He returned to face North Carolina State and showed no ill effects: He had nine catches for 132 yards.

Defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin grabs most of the headlines, and for good reason. Not only do his dyed-red dreadlocks look really cool, but he’s also a fierce pass-rusher who has accounted for six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. But while Mauldin will be a handful, his efforts could play right into the hands of teammate Gerod Holliman. Holliman, a redshirt sophomore safety, leads the nation with eight interceptions. A strong pass rush can lead to bad throws and bad decisions. And Holliman has proven himself to be more than opportunistic. 

Florida State: In the face of a stout pass rush, Florida State’s offensive line will be in the spotlight. And while Mauldin can line up in any number of positions, the matchup between him and FSU left tackle Cameron Erving will likely be at the forefront. Erving has played well in big matchups before – he shut down Clemson’s Vic Beasley in 2013 – but he and the line have been uneven at times this season.

With Parker back in the lineup and a healthy Gardner at quarterback, Louisville’s passing attack is finally at full strength. Thursday could present the opportunity for a statement game by FSU’s secondary, especially junior cornerbacks Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams


FSU cornerback Ronald Darby breaks up a pass against Notre Dame.
(Photo by Jeff Romance)


Total offense: FSU: 442.6 YPG (44th Nationally); U of L: 370.4 (91st)

Scoring offense:  FSU: 37.9 PPG (18th); U of L: 30.9 PPG (55th)

Passing offense: FSU: 316.7 YPG (14th); U of L: 225.8 YPG (70th)

Rushing offense: FSU: 125.9 YPG (101st); U of L: 144.6 (87th)

Total defense: FSU: 374.4 YPG (53rd); U of L: 243.9 (1st)

Scoring defense: FSU: 21.6 PPG (29th); U of L: 14.6 PPG (4th)

Passing defense: FSU: 227.9 YPG (62nd); U of L: 177.0 YPG (10th)

Rushing defense: FSU: 146.6 YPG (48th); U of L: 66.9 YPG (1st)


“Their defense and secondary, I have to give props where it’s due. They’re a bunch of ball hawks. They’re a great defense overall and that’s what I like to play against. I like to play against the best and it brings the best out in me.” – FSU receiver Rashad Greene on matching up with Louisville’s top-ranked defense

“It’s nice to have all our weapons back. Hopefully we’ll go out and show that we know how to execute with them.” – Louisville coach Bobby Petrino on getting receiver DeVante Parker and others back into the lineup

“I think (Florida State is) going to lose Thursday at Louisville if they play the way they have all year.” –ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit on Louisville’s chances of an upset 

“It’s definitely good to go against somebody you don’t have to worry about chasing around all the time and you get to pin your ears back and rush the passer.” – FSU defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. on facing Louisville quarterback Will Gardner, who has not been as mobile as some other QBs FSU has faced this season.


  • FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has been especially good in road ACC games during his career. The redshirt sophomore has thrown for more than 300 yards in five of six such games. He has a career stat line of 1,971 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions in conference games on the road.
  • Speaking of Winston, his numbers are also eye-popping when FSU is trailing or tied. In those situations, he’s 144 for 199 (72 percent) for 1,860 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.
  • FSU’s rushing defense has been solid (147.4 YPG, 48th nationally), but the Seminoles have been really good when it counts. They haven’t allowed a rushing TD since the third quarter of the N.C. State game on Sept. 27.
  • If the name Michael Dyer sounds familiar, it’s because he starred for Auburn in 2010 and 2011 before transferring to Arkansas State in 2012. The former BCS championship game offensive MVP is now at U of L and, after dealing with injuries through the first part of the year, is apparently back on track. He ran for 173 yards in his last outing.



Did you know that the greatest of all time hails from Louisville? Muhammad Ali grew up there, and Louisville is home to the Muhammad Ali museum. Here’s a cool video that explores his roots in the city.




This has been a strange 10 days around FSU football. In a lot of ways, it feels like the late penalty that helped the Seminoles beat Notre Dame has taken away some of the credit they deserved for beating the Irish.

That FSU earned a No. 2 ranking in the College Football Playoff committee’s first official poll on Tuesday hasn’t done much to quiet the idea that the Seminoles are slipping and ripe for an upset on Thursday.

Still, Louisville is a good team – the Cardinals are 6-2 with their two losses coming by a combined eight points. But they’re not likely to be the best team FSU has faced this season.

The road atmosphere will of course be difficult, but, as noted above, Jameis Winston takes it to another level in hostile environments. If he’s dialed in anywhere close to the level he was during his last time out, the Seminoles should be able to leave Louisville with a win.

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