23-17 Florida State as the Seminoles are better equipped to stop Louisville than they were Miami, but Louisville is better equipped to stop FSU than Miami was. This is also a prime letdown spot. You can listen to the full preview podcast here.
The FSU defense hasn't made a ton of big plays this season, but it has done its job-- and that responsible play will factor largely in defending mobile Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Florida State's patient approach will afford Jackson the opportunity to make mistakes, and I think he'll oblige.
Louisville is physical on defense, but I've been impressed with the growth of the FSU offensive line, as well as the steps that QB Everett Golson took last week. According to both Jimbo Fisher and Florida State players, Golson was a new player against the 'Canes. The 'Noles left several points on the field last week; I think some of those points wind up on the scoreboard this time.
FSU wins, 27-16.
I picked FSU over Miami 29-20, and the Hurricanes offense performed a bit better than anticipated, with Kaaya shredding the Seminole secondary. Louisville seems to be pretty similar in overall talent to the 'Canes, but Jackson brings a completely different style at QB: a style that I feel FSU is honestly better suited to defend. The noon kickoff has me concerned about a bit of a dull atmosphere, but hopefully Dalvin wakes up the crowd early. His first quarters have been spectacular.
FSU - 27
The Ville - 20
This game is certainly one FSU will lose, right? Close win against a rival? Check. Opponent coming off a bye week? Check. Opponent playing better than their record indicates? Check. Noon game? Check. Thankfully, the game is in Tallahassee, and FSU still has Dalvin Cook. It certainly won't be easy, as Louisville fields a very good defense along with an excellent runner at QB, but FSU has seen this before. I think the 'Noles will look sluggish early but stay close and finish late. FSU 17 UL 13.
'Noles OL seems to be improving week to week. They'll get physically beat some, but they'll get theirs and help Dalvin keep cooking his Heisman hype up. Defense has done pretty well containing mobile QBs so far and will do so again. 'Noles 27-13.
The odds say that FSU is past due for its first ACC loss in over 3 years. This won't be the week. FSU blows it wide open in the second quarter and never looks back. This could be the first game where all three facets of the team perform better than they have in a while, including covering UL's tight end down the field, which is my biggest concern going in.
FSU 41 - UL 14
With FSU's grueling conference slate in full throttle, Bobby Petrino hopes to catch the 'Noles looking ahead around the curve. The Cardinals' hopes fall upon their shiny new quarterback Lamar Jackson, as Louisville will spread out FSU's defense, a departure from Petrino's classic Quid Pro Quo-Style attack. Petrino really likes to lean into the QB run game with Jackson and keep opposing defenses dangerously off balance, and FSU's thin linebacking squad is dealing with a rash of injuries.
But good news for FSU: Trey Marshall returns after his dramatic ejection while wearing a helmet against Brad Kaaya.
Watching the Seminoles' offense on film from last week has undoubtedly gotten Louisville's attention. Petrino knows that when Dalvin Cook sees open road ahead, he swerves once and hits it with authority. But the Cardinals have NFL-caliber athletes littered across the field.
Brace yourself for a hard-hitting affair on Saturday. Bring plenty of sunscreen, and a pint of Neosporin.
Seminoles 24, Cardinal Sin 20.
This game is the one I probably look forward to the least. I moved from Florida to Louisville in '92 and have been in Cards Country ever since. I was there in 2002, in the torrential downpour to see Rix throw interceptions, Boldin attempt to choke a guy, and Cards fans tear the goalposts down. I was there last year to see Winston silence the thousands. Through it all, UL fans are mostly respectful, but some are downright nasty (like every fanbase). An old lady in the elevator telling me the whole FSU team was bad apples was a fun one recently. So, in the end, for the sake of what I'll have to endure if Louisville wins, I'll pick FSU 24-20. Dear Lord, please.
Lots here to suggest an ugly match up: two talented defenses, questionable offensive lines, and two QBs capable of bouncing around-- or imploding. Weather will be perfect, so that's one thing that will be. 19-18, FSU.
I've had this one circled as a worrisome game. Louisville has a young but very talented QB, and FSU will have to get lots of pressure and hits in to force him into making some mistakes. Louisville's tight end will do some damage and likely find the end zone a time or two.
Jimbo Fisher called his best game of the year last week and will need to continue the great calls for this one, so FSU can keep Louisville's defense off balance. FSU has to take care of the ball and limit mental errors-- the OL will have its hands full with the Louisville DL. Maybe Josh Harvey-Clemons will have red eyes to match his uniform.
Cardinals are fearless, bad-ass birds. This one would worry me more if it were on the road, but I still think it'll be close. FSU avoids the potential letdown and wins 27-20.
The Seminoles enter this game against Louisville riding high off their sixth straight win over the Miami Hurricanes, and I think a lack of total preparation for the Cardinals will show early in this one. Louisville's impressive defense will keep the game low scoring and close at halftime, a la the USF game earlier this season. However, the Seminoles break away after three quarters and a late Dalvin Cook touchdown ices the game and helps Florida State survive a disappointing showing. FSU 24, UL 14.
This game could be Boston College ugly. Louisville's defense is more talented, but maybe not as disciplined. However, it is clear that Fisher had a plan to open up the playbook as the season goes and against better competition. FSU will need to get creative again. Use Golson's legs and get some quick throws/easy completions. Don't let Louisville tee off on drop backs. Perhaps a mobile, not as accurate QB is just what FSU's defense needs. That's what they've seen most of the season. Florida State wins a close game, 20-16.
I'll take FSU, 24-10. I expect the 'Noles will come out just a little flat after an emotional, late win over Miami last week and a noon start for this game. UL probably has the best defense FSU has faced yet, but their offense features an erratic, albeit mobile, QB. The defense will force him into mistakes and the offense will score enough to give the 'Noles a two-score win, pulling away in the second half.
This is the best defense FSU has faced, no doubt. But I think FSU will have opportunities in the run game. The UL front 7 is extremely talented but can be undisciplined. I like Dalvin to have another big day. The key will be to limit turnovers, because UL's offense is trash. The OL is putrid and Lamar Jackson is more RB than he is QB. I like FSU to win 30-13.
On offense, Louisville is too one-dimensional (Lamar Jackson running). The Cards are aggressive and talented on the defensive side, but I expect Jimbo Fisher to call lots of screens, misdirection, & swing passes to Dalvin Cook to slow Todd Grantham's troops. FSU wins 24-17 in a trap game.
After all that Bobby Petrino put people through, Tom Jurich interviewed him and said "he's my guy!" Now, Louisville is paying him twenty-four and a half million dollars, and he's about to be 11-8. That's gotta feel good.