After losing a regular season game for the first time since 2012 last week in Atlanta, Florida State will look to get back on track ahead of its trip to Death Valley on Nov. 7 with a noon game against Syracuse this week at Doak Campbell Stadium. Cuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) comes into its showdown with the Seminoles (6-1, 4-1) in the midst of a four-game losing streak after starting the season with three consecutive wins.
Syracuse will avoid the rare distinction of having to face the country's top two running backs in the same season, as FSU's Dalvin Cook would have been waiting after LSU's Leonard Fournette went for 244 and two scores against the Orange on Sept. 26. Cook, however, has not looked like his normal, explosive self in the last two weeks due to a lingering hamstring injury he sustained on Oct. 3., and picked up another knock to his ankle last week in addition. Cook is still averaging 8.17 yards per carry for the 'Noles, but he doesn't seem to have the top-end speed he displayed early in the year and was held to 4.8 yards per tote against Georgia Tech.
There was speculation about giving Cook a rest against Cuse, and it was announced Thursday night that Cook would not play for FSU this weekend.
Everett Golson continues to leave plays on the field for FSU, with several touchdown chances missed last week and a few instances where he read the wrong side of the field. Syracuse's defense will present opportunities for Golson (who is likely to play according to Jimbo Fisher), as Cuse ranks 99th against the pass and 100th against the run by opponent-adjusted numbers. An FSU offensive line that was plagued by procedural mistakes at GT last week will look to show improvement ahead of a much tougher test against one of the nation's top defenses in Clemson.
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Defensively the 'Noles will be taking on a Syracuse offense led by freshman Eric Dungey, who has shown an ability to make plays through the air and on the ground. Dungey has thrown for 11 touchdowns and three picks on 8.4 yards per attempt, while also rushing for 260 yards and three TDs. Running back Jordan Fredericks has carried for 360 yards on 5.7 yards per rush and is coming off a 91-yard outing vs. Pitt.
Outside of Fredericks, Syracuse's primary offensive play-makers are Steve Ishmael, Brisly Estime and Ervin Philips. The FSU defense will be the stingiest unit that Cuse has encountered to this point in the season, however, and the Orange haven't scored more than 27 against any defense not belonging to Virginia or Rhode Island.
Linebacker Terrance Smith remains an injury question mark for FSU with an ankle issue, and we'll see if he can go or if the Seminoles opt to keep him out for one more week ahead of a potent Clemson offense.
Be sure to listen to the Nolecast, where our Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith provide unmatched analysis of all things Florida State Seminoles ahead of this week's matchup with Syracuse. Also make sure you give the podcast a rating on iTunes.