Florida State travels to Tampa on Saturday for a potential bounce-back game against South Florida after the utter dismantling the Seminoles underwent last week at Louisville. Does the Tomahawk Nation staff believe that it will be a return to increased play for FSU or are the staffers of the opinion that one loss will turn into two? Find out below:
Is it too crazy to say Saturday is the most important game of this season? A convincing win and relief will sweep the fan base, but another loss and all hell might break loose. Sluggish starts are the norm for FSU these days so I don't expect any different on Saturday. But, I do believe FSU will have plenty of success vs the Bulls defense, especially on the ground and though FSU will bust a few assignments on D (like clockwork), the depth of talent will be too much for USF to overcome. FSU pulls away late but questions remain.
FSU 34, USF 16
This will be the first game of the new season and FSU will bounce back nicely. The defense will give up a couple of touchdowns during the game and one more in garbage time. FSU’s running game will get off the the ground with Dalvin Cook, Jacques Patrick, Ryan Green, and Deondre Francois gaining over 250 rushing yards while Francois passes for another 200 yards. I won’t be a total domination, but it will mark the first time this season FSU plays a full, well balanced game.
FSU 41 – Dyslexic FSU 24
34-30, Florida State.
For a full rundown of Dylan’s reasoning and insight, check out his Q&A with The Daily Stampede.
South Florida is a good team, and, like the last opponent, I don't think they're being given their due respect by a lot of FSU fans. Marlon Mack is a future NFL back. Quinton Flowers has improved in his accuracy and elusiveness as a QB, the type this defense struggles against. USF's 4-2-5 defense is not bad. Add in your typical upset factors: most of USF's players were not recruited or offered by FSU, this is their Super Bowl, the Bulls probably smell blood in the water, etc., and I'm not convinced that this young FSU team has the wherewithal to bounce back mentally and emotionally from the worst loss of the Jimbo Fisher era. I also have little confidence right now in the willingness of the coaching staff to make necessary adjustments. I try not to get too high on the highs or too low on the lows, but there's a lot of issues that needed to be fixed yesterday. I'm not sure if they can be.
FSU hasn't lost back-to-back games since 2011 (66 games, second-longest streak in the country). I'm picking FSU, but I won't be shocked if USF pulls the upset.
FSU 31, USF 27
It’s hard to be hopeful as both fans and players are recovering from last week’s annihilation. USF has a nice quarterback & a future NFL running back in Mack. If the FSU defense turns guys lose in the secondary for the fourth straight game, I don’t think the ‘Noles have enough on offense to hang in a shootout. The defense was supposed to be the backbone for a good offense featuring a young QB. But the defense has proved to be a liability and good offenses have exposed it. There is talk of “simplifying” things for the defense which sounds nice. But if you had trouble teaching guys things for two months, what can you teach them in five days? Maybe it works, I don’t know. Put me down for either a bounce back win 39-19, or a 20+-point loss on the road & a staff shake-up.
After Saturday's game, my confidence in this team is shaken. The secondary is a mess. The offense is pedestrian. As much as I hate to say it versus an in-state directional school, I think the Noles only win by three touchdowns.
I dunno, I'm sad. I think, maybe, possibly, FSU will not suck and show up in Tampa ready to play ball. Maybe the defense decides to tackle, maybe the offense decides to block. Maybe Cook actually looks like Cook. They're a mess and the Showtime reality show didn't do much to dispel the fact that they're a mess. Francois is good though, so there's that. With that being said FSU rolls 52-17hahahahahahaha.
I honestly have no clue what to expect from FSU this week. This program is so rarely in the position of having to bounce back from a blowout loss that it's hard to predict what the mindset will be. How bad was it last week? The 43 point smack down at the hands of Louisville is more points than FSU's eight previous ACC regular season losses combined. In fact, the Noles have only lost two other ACC games by 30 or more points: the infamous 30-0 home shutout to Wake Forest in 2006 and the 41-9 beat down in Chapel Hill back in 2001.
In 2001, FSU rebounded the next week to beat a bowl eligible Wake Forest team 48-24, but still ended up dropping three more games on the year. In 2006, the Noles scraped by Western Michigan the following week before dropping the season finale to UF.
I don't believe the boys in garnet and gold will quit--too many of them will be playing in front of friends and family. But I can't believe all the issues present last week will magically disappear either. USF has a legit NFL-caliber running back and a dangerous QB. The Bulls will also be playing with a chip on their shoulder, looking to make a statement against one of Florida's "Big 3."
A close game throughout, FSU escapes with a 30-27 win.
Similar styles, different beast. The ‘Noles look to rebound this week and I think they will. I do not think the team expected to struggle as mightily as they did in Louisville and with the simplification of some things on defense; mainly on the back-end, I expect them to look better this weekend. I still expect a few coverage busts but not so many that Flowers can take advantage. This USF defense is not as good as the unit last year that gave the FSU offense, aside from Cook, a lot of trouble. I'm hoping this is the beginning of more QB throwing, more jet motion, and easier blocks for the offensive line as well as a defense that can actually defend the zone read. ‘Noles win 31-20.
FSU has played 1 very good half and 3 bad halves of meaningful football so far this year which doesn't bode well for this weekend as they'll have to play at least 2 halves of competent football to beat USF. Florida State has a lot to fix on both sides of the ball and while the defensive side will probably get fixed first, I'm not positive Fisher will run an offense that will help Francois and the offensive line succeed. Will Fisher run his quarterback effectively? Will Patrick, or another running back, get the playing time they have seemingly earned? A 2014 or 2015 Cook would have me picking FSU not only because of his ability but the attention a defense needs to pay to him. However, there's still something not right with Cook so unless he gets better or Fisher adjusts, I'm going to be down on the Noles. USF has probably repped FSU all off season and this is the Bulls’ Super Bowl once again. USF 28 - FSU 24
Remember when USF beat FSU and put up the big 4 billboards? This has all the makings of that game unless FSU can get back on track. Marlon Mack is NFL good and could be the best running back on the field unless the old Dalvin Cook shows up. I think the OL holds up, the defense does just enough and FSU pulls out a close one, 35-31.
I honestly have no idea what to expect from this Florida State team after last week's debacle in Louisville. I know that USF isn't bad, so if the ‘Noles don't improve in every facet, they will most likely lose. However, I think we'll see some simplification on both sides of the ball, & I'll take FSU in a close game.
I think this South Florida game has a lot of bearing on how the rest of Florida State’s season will go. If FSU comes out and makes a statement by controlling the game and having it well in hand by the beginning of the fourth quarter, I think the Seminoles use it as a stepping off point for the upcoming difficult stretch of schedule. However, a loss against the Bulls continues the downward spiral of coverage issues, ineffective Dalvin Cook, and sloppy offensive line play, resulting in a highly disappointing season for the Florida State faithful.
With regard to how I see Saturday’s game playing out, I believe it falls somewhere in the middle. Cook, who went for 222 yards last season against USF, is held in check on another iffy performance which further perpetuates the talk of what his problem is but a stellar showing from Francois as well as increased production from the defense leads the Seminoles to a close victory.
The South Florida Bulls throw another mobile quarterback at Florida State. What could possibly go wrong? Welcome to Louisville Lite. All kidding aside (sort of), FSU fans won't get the feel-good bounce-back performance for which they're hoping in Tampa. But I also don't think they'll get the nightmarish encore performance of last Saturday that many fear.
Over the last week, Fisher has said repeatedly that things are rarely as bad -- or as good -- as they seem. I think that sentiment will hold up well come Saturday. The 'Noles won't look nearly as dreadful as they did against the Cardinals, but they'll still head back to Tallahassee with plenty of issues to address, as well as a victory. FSU 37, USF 24.
Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith
Foe Bud and Ingram’s predictions, give their USF preview episode of the Nolecast a listen.