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FSU can benefit from Louisville being awful on third down—on both sides of the ball

This could provide an important edge for the Seminoles.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, I wrote about how poorly Florida State has seized upon its chances of converting on third downs. The Seminoles were the worst power-five team in the country in that regard, but they did a better job of staying on schedule against Northern Illinois last week, and as a result, they vaulted all the way up to a tie for 119th out of 130 FBS squads. Presently, they’re tied with that same NIU squad at a success rate of 31.15%.

That means that there’s a new worst-of-the-P5 third-down team, and yes, it’s Louisville, FSU’s week five opponent. The Cardinals’ 29.17% third-down conversion efficiency is 124th, nationally, among FBS teams, ahead of powerhouses New Mexico State, Central Michigan, Texas State, San Jose State, South Alabama, and SMU.

The inability of both the ’Noles and the Cards to stay on the field has been a major issue in each program’s lackluster offensive output so far in 2018, which I discussed in a piece published earlier today.

FSU could be in position to further improve its own success on third downs against UL, as Louisville has also been garbage in defending on third down. The Cardinals are among the worst in the country in that regard, as their opponents have converted on 49.23% of their third-down tries. That’s 125th in the FBS. Florida State, on the other hand, is tied for a respectable 23rd, nationally, with an opponents’ success rate of 30%.