LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Florida State is a proud program with a rich tradition. But the present is a dumpster fire. Louisville's job will be to fan the flames. But it isn't always that simple.
The Seminoles looked promising in an overtime home-field loss to Notre Dame to open the season. Then came a loss at home to Jacksonville State. Then they fell apart in a 35-14 loss at Wake Forest, turning the ball over 6 times.
The last time FSU started a season 0-4, the year was 1974. So Louisville will be trying to make some history when it travels to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.
The Cardinals are slight favorites, and are coming off their best performance of the season, a 42-35 win over Central Florida, secured when freshman linebacker Jaylin Alderman returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown in the closing seconds.
A victory gets them halfway to bowl eligibility, and starts them on the right foot in ACC play. But they're 0-3 in their last three ACC openers. What you need to know before kickoff:
TIME: 3:30 p.m., Doak Campbell Stadium (79,560) in Tallhassee, Fla.
WHERE TO WATCH: ESPN2 (Anish Shroff play by play, Mike Golic Jr. analyst, Taylor McGregor sidelines).
WHERE TO LISTEN: 790 WKRD-AM (Paul Rogers play-by-play, Craig Swabek analyst, Jody Demling sideline).
THE LINE: Louisville by 2. Over-under 61.5.
THE SERIES: FSU leads 16-5, including a 10-2 record in Tallahassee. In the last meeting, Louisville RB Javian Hawkins carried for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 45-16 Louisville win. The Cardinals have won three of the past five games in the series.
THE COACHES: Scott Satterfield is 65-37 in his ninth season overall and 14-13 in his third season at Louisville. He's 1-1 vs. FSU. Mike Norvell is 41-29 overall, 3-9 at FSU and 0-1 vs. Louisville.
RECORDS: Louisville is 2-1 after last week's win over UCF. Florida State is 0-3.
PLAYER TO WATCH (Louisville): This is a big game for Louisville QB Malik Cunningham. The Cardinals are going to need him to make good decisions against a defense that is among the nation's leaders for tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Staying out of those negative plays is going to be the job for Cunningham, who is coming off a solid all-around game against Central Florida. Quick passing figures to be a must against an FSU team that ranks ninth in the nation with four sacks per game, but getting the run game going, and creativity in the run game, will be keys for Louisville in this game.
PLAYER TO WATCH (FSU): Jermaine Johnson II ranks 1st in the NCAA with an average of 2.3 tackles for loss per game and is the only ACC defender averaging more than 2.0 TFLs per game. He's also second in the nation in sacks. The 6-5, 262-pound defensive end from Eden Prairie, Minn., transferred from Georgia, and has made an immediate impact. He was the ACC's defensive lineman of the week after his first game, and has been the team's leading tackler. Job No. 1 for the Louisville offensive line will be figuring out a way to deal with him on the edge.
SIDELINE STORYLINES: There's some grumbling in Tallahassee about a team that showed promise in its opener, only to fall completely flat in its next two games. The Seminoles have some highly touted talent, but second-year coach Mike Norvell has not been able to steer the program in the right direction. Mackenzie Milton, a transfer QB from UCF, led a comeback against Notre Dame, but has been less effective since. Louisville transfer Jordan Travis also has seen significant time at QB, and started the season opener. Louisville coaches expect FSU to use both QBs on Saturday. The Cardinals were disappointing in their season-opening loss to Ole Miss, a 43-24 setback. But the Rebels have gone on to average 57.5 points a game in their two wins since then, and have risen to No. 13 in the nation. Having faced two of the nation's better passing attacks, the Cardinals shouldn't be looking at that level of danger through the air this week, but will need to continue its improvement on third down, and should be helped by an offense that leads the ACC and ranks No. 17 nationally in time of possession.
QUOTABLE: Satterfield on his team's progression: "One thing as a coach, you want to be able to see your team continue to improve each week and we've done that. Did not play well at all obviously the first half against Ole Miss, but we played a lot better in the second half. We did some better things against EKU and then I thought we did even better against these guys from Central Florida so we got to continue that. We've got to get better again this week as we go down and play Florida State."
THE PICK: Louisville 31-24.
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