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Staff Predictions: Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisville Cardinals

The 4th-ranked Florida State Seminoles are trying to win their 16th ACC Championship and improve CFP ranking by remaining undefeated

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The 4th-ranked Florida State Seminoles and the 15th-ranked Louisville Cardinals will meet in the 2023 ACC Football Championship Game being played at the Bank of America Stadium, located in Charlotte, N.C. The Saturday night prime-time game is being televised nationally on the ABC network with the kickoff scheduled for 8:00 p.m.

Florida State has a total of 15 ACC Championships since joining the conference in 1992, which is the most in the ACC followed by Clemson’s 8 titles. The Seminoles will be trying to win their first ACC Championship since 2014.

Florida State leads the all-time series 17-6 and has won three of the last five matchups. This will be the first neutral-site contest in series history. The Seminoles finished the regular season 12-0 overall for the fourth time in school history, and completed an unbeaten regular season for the seventh time in program history.

Louisville, who will be making their first appearance in the ACC Championship, finished their regular season at 10-2 overall, and went 7-1 in ACC play this season under first-year head coach and alumnus Jeff Brohm. The Cardinals posted their seventh 10-win season in program history and their first since the 2013. Louisville is tied with FSU for the most wins in the nation over bowl-eligible Power 5 teams with seven (Georgia Tech, Boston College, NC State, Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia Tech, and Miami).

Likewise, Florida State is tied with Louisville for the most wins in the country over bowl-eligible Power 5 teams, again with seven wins (LSU, Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Duke, Syracuse, and Miami). The Noles are one of only five remaining undefeated teams in all of FBS. In the history of the College Football Playoffs, no undefeated Power 5 team has been left out of the playoff, including 6-0 Ohio State in 2020.

Florida State is on an 18-game winning streak dating back to last year, the third-longest active streak in the country. The winning streak is also the second-longest in program history and third-longest in ACC history. FSU is also on an 11-game conference winning streak, the fifth-longest in the nation, have won nine straight at home, also the fifth-best streak in the nation, and won seven straight on the road, tied for the fifth-longest in the nation. During its 18-game winning streak, Florida State has outscored its opponents 718-310.

Louisville is 5-1 this season in games decided by one touchdown or less. The Cardinals are one of 11 teams in all of FBS with five or more wins by one touchdown or less on the year, and posted four comeback victories this season. The Cardinals advanced to the title for the first time by clinching a berth after a 38-31 win over Miami on Nov. 18 to finish the conference schedule at 7-1 overall — tying the school’s best league record since joining the conference in 2014

The Cards rank in the top 26 nationally in both total defense and total offense, in the top 35 in both scoring defense and scoring offense, and rank in the top 35 in both rushing defense and rushing offense.

The Florida State defense has not allowed 30 points in a game this season, one of just four teams to do that in all of FBS this year. FSU ranks in the top 15 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, just one of seven teams in all of FBS. The Noles rank in the top 26 in both red zone offense and red zone defense, one of only six teams in the nation. FSU also ranks in the top 35 in both total offense and total defense.

In their meeting last year...

...the Noles engineered an impressive fourth quarter comeback to defeat Louisville 35-31 in Cardinal Stadium. RS sophomore quarterback Tate Rodemaker came off the bench to lead a heroic 35-31 come-from-behind effort in the Seminoles’ ACC opener.

Rodemaker entered the game in the second quarter and directed three second half scoring drives two of which ended with touchdown passes to Johnny Wilson. Rodemaker found Wilson, who finished with seven catches for 149 yards, with the game-winning touchdown pass from two yards out with 7:54 remaining giving FSU its first lead. Wilson’s yardage total was the most for a Seminole receiver since a 165-yard performance in the 2019 Sun Bowl.

Kevin Knowles’ interception with 37 seconds remaining in the game after Louisville had crossed midfield preserved the win for the Seminoles.

Rodemaker completed six of his 10 passes and threw for 109 yards in his first extensive playing time since 2020. Rodemaker entered the game late in the second quarter following the injury to Jordan, who has started the Seminoles’ first three games of the season. While he struggled early, his finish was superb in earning his second career win as Florida State’s quarterback.

Some gameday trivia to impress your friends:

  • FSU WR coach Ron Dugans was in the same position for the Cardinals from 2010-13 under former head coach Charlie Strong.
  • Louisville cornerback Jarvis Brownlee played at Florida State from 2019-2021.
  • Injured quarterback Jordan Travis played one season at Louisville in 2018.
  • FSU cornerback Greedy Vance played two seasons at Louisville in 2020-21.

According to DraftKings, the Seminoles are a 2.5-point favorite against the Cardinals, with the over/under set at 48.5.

A) Read what your TOMAHAWK NATION PROGNOSTICATORS think about this Saturday’s showdown.

2) Then look over and digest all of the FREE PREGAME CONTENT we’ve posted below.

D) We would love to hear your thoughts about how you feel about this game and your final score prediction in the comments.

  • NoleThruandThru (Season record: 12-0)

Throughout this series of articles, many of the Tomahawk Nation contributors predicted an undefeated regular season. This has been a special season for the garnet and gold, and we’ve loved being along for the ride. Thanks for rolling with us!

I’ve yet to pick against FSU this season and I’m not about to do it now, specifically because of the defense. Adam Fuller deserves a ton of credit for the unit’s development. I think the defensive line continues to feast and the strong play from Akeem Dent and Jarrius Jones continues. I’m guessing FSU forces at least two turnovers. On offense, Tate Rodemaker settles in more quickly, Keon Coleman has a bounce-back performance, Johnny Wilson comes up with timely receptions, Trey Benson finds the endzone again, and the ‘Noles do enough to put it away in the 4th quarter.

FSU 38, Louisville 20

  • FrankDNole (Season record: 15-0)

I’m going to take my pick in a different direction this time and repost my preseason expectations and prediction. Why? Because I stand by my words. Also, because I know NT&T was really talking about me when he said many.

Q: First things first, nice and simple: Will FSU win more than, less than or exactly 10 games in 2023?

Frank DNole: Let’s see. 12 regular season games, the ACC Championship game, the Capital One Orange Bowl game, and the National Championship game in Houston. My answer is more than 10 games because 15 is more than 10.

Q: With that answer in mind, what are your overall expectations for Florida State?

Frank DNole: This Mike Norvell fella is going to bring the National Championship trophy to back to Tallahassee after 10 years of mediocrity. Unfortunately, this is going to put a lot of pressure on him to repeat next year.

Q: If FSU scored between 35 and 45 in every single game, what would you say their record is?

Frank DNole: If they average between 35 and 45 every game during the regular season they will finish 12-0. However, I expect FSU to average 45 or more every game during the season, then 35 to 45 during the conference championship game, the bowl game, and the National Championship game.

Q: What are the biggest factors in determining FSU’s win-loss record this season?

Frank DNole: I agree with the other staffers in that injury luck is the biggest factor which will determine our final record. I feel it’s more important that the defense stays healthy all season in order to make it to Houston. But of course we don’t need no stinkin’ major injuries on offense either, but I think it’s more important for the defense to stay healthy.

Q: Do the Seminoles have a top 3 receiver room in the country in 2023?

Frank DNole: Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. Affirmative, Ghost Rider.

Q; Which Tigers will be more challenging for Florida State — LSU or Clemson?

Frank DNole: LSU will be a tougher win for the Noles than the win over Clemson. Clemson is just a shell of their former selves and will be lucky to win 9 games this season.

That said,

FSU Seminoles 37, UL (U Lose) 27

  • Jon Marchant (Season record: 12-0)

This has been an incredible, special season that deserves to be remembered for a very long time. We told you it would be a fun season and it certainly has been.

But this one is for all the marbles. Win this game and you win the conference — your main goal of the season — and punch your ticket to the playoffs. Lose, and…well, it would be devastating to lose at this point.

The offense needs to show better effort and execution out of the gate. They must avoid turnovers and negative plays.

Once again, this game will probably come down to FSUs excellent defense. Can they hold the door long enough for FSUs offense to get it together? Can they keep their streak going of putting the clamps on in the second half?

I said it would be devastating to lose at this juncture and I meant it. I am terrified of this game because of how much is riding on the result. Louisville is not an elite team but they’re much better than the Gators and definitely capable of winning this game. But like NoleThruandThru, I can’t pick against FSU. Norvell doesn’t preach about adversity and finishing for nothing. I think it will once again be the difference.

FSU 20, Louisville 17

  • LastNoleOfKrypton (11-0)

The line is moving in Louisville’s direction and all of the pundits are picking Louisville so naturally it’s up to us to provide some balance. Balance is the key word because even without Jordan Travis this will be the most balanced and talented roster that Louisville will have seen all year (eye-test, not recruiting rankings wise).

Both coaches can really dial it up so expect some shot plays here and there; especially because FSU loves to play man defense and Louisville’s defense loves to give up big plays. Jared Verse leads the way as FSU completes the ACC season 13-0 and ACC Champions

FSU 33 Louisville 24

  • Jordan Silversmith (Season Record: 11-1)

The final game of the season presents the stiffest challenge.

Even with Louisville’s loss last week, this is a complete football team. They can play on any terms, be able to run the ball if they need to with their exceptional running back duo, or throw it down the field with a sixth-year veteran QB. As Adam Fuller mentioned during his weekly press conference, they do a great job of making their runs look like passes and vice versa. The Cardinals reached 30 points in their last four games and can produce explosive plays at any moment. The defense for the majority of the year has been stout, but in the last few weeks, a leak in the pipes presented itself. Their front seven will be as good as any FSU faced all season, led by Ashton Gillotte. The defensive end already produced 11 sacks on the year and is one of the most underrated players in the country.

I try not to be a homer and look to be as objective as possible. This week, however, I am going against my journalistic behaviors. I think FSU will win on Saturday. That is my gut feeling. As I mentioned, the Cardinals are deep in almost every position and can play any game the Seminoles want. Florida State looked poor in practice all week and will be trotting out Tate in a nasty enviroment for the second week in a row. Truly, it just feels like the ‘Noles came too far only to come this far. They found ways to win all sorts of situations throughout the year, and it feels like they are on a ride of destiny. Johnny Wilson makes enough catches, Tate makes enough throws, and the defense does what the defense does the last few weeks. Win, and a slight cover.

Florida State 24 Louisville 21

  • Evenflow58 (Season record: 12-0)

I think FSU went into the UF game last week not completely sure how to run their offense. They drew up some nice plays early but like most of the year they just couldn’t execute as an entire offense. There was always just one player off here or there. That’s kind of been the MO for the offense but they end up doing enough to hover around 30 points every game. I’m hoping that the UF game was a case of growing pains in a rivalry game for the Tate Rodemaker offense (I don’t think he played poorly but the team wasn’t great and I think they were trying to figure out what worked best with his skill set). I expect the offense to not be great but to look a bit better against a tougher UL defense.

On the other side of the ball I think FSU gives up some points early but plays enough smothering defense to allow for another come back. That’s kind of been the defense’s MO all year and the heavy substituting early in the year is starting to pay dividends. Not only does Fuller and Co know who they can trust they have a good bit of depth to lean on.

Ultimately special teams and the talent advantage (something they haven’t had in games where they’ve struggled) wins the day for FSU and the ‘Noles are playoff bound.

Florida State 28 Louisville 21

  • Perry Kostidakis (12-0)

What’s most concerning for me in this matchup is, for one of the few times this season, FSU is going up against a coaching staff that knows what it’s doing. You’re not getting the benefit of Mario Cristobal’s blank dumb face staring at you from the opposite sideline, and that could make a difference if Florida State finds itself down early once again.

The Cardinals’ run defense, as you might have heard, has been extremely successful in shutting down other team’s rushing attacks — but that has come coupled with a chance to be slightly exposed in the passing game. With Florida State’s own defense playing at an elite level, the offense is going to have to take a major step forward and find a more consistent level of success than what we saw against Florida. I’ve got faith in that happening partially because it’s a neutral site (the crowd noise in Gainesville quite clearly affected the offense’s comfort level) and also because even when this team put up such a disgusting first half, it still managed to find the necessary points in a win.

If Florida State plays its game, takes what the defense gives it, forces the Cardinals to rely more heavily on the pass and doesn’t turn the ball over, it’ll be booking flights to Pasadena or New Orleans.

Florida State 31, Louisville 27

Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisville Cardinals

Pre-Game Coverage from Tomahawk Nation