No. 25 Louisville set to host No. 2 Florida State
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville has been looking forward to Thursday night's game against Florida State since it joined the ACC.
The Atlantic Coast Conference newcomers are looking forward to proving they can play with the best in the league. But to pull off the upset will be challenge for the Cardinals.
Both teams are coming off a bye week and the second-ranked Seminoles are determined to remain unbeaten.
It will be the first meeting between FSU (7-0, 4-0 ACC, No. 2 CFP) and Louisville (6-2, 4-2, No. 25 CFP) since Sept. 26, 2002, and the Cardinals beat a fourth-ranked Seminoles squad 26-20 in overtime. Another upset would create a seismic shift of the championship landscape.
The defending national champions haven't been as dominant this year, but have a nation-best 23 game winning streak.
The Cardinals would like for it to end in Louisville.
''That's big for our program, big for our football team to get that team coming into our home and getting to play them in our stadium,'' Louisville quarterback Will Gardner said.
The Cardinals have been off since beating North Carolina State 30-18 here two weeks ago, a game they never trailed but wasn't clinched until late. The break has allowed several players to rehab nagging injured and get even more focused on a game that would keep Louisville in ACC title contention.
Florida State and quarterback Jameis Winston also have had an opportunity to rest.
The Seminoles have recharged since their 31-27 victory over Notre Dame, a win fueled by Winston's 273 yards passing and a touchdown.
FSU has dominated the 14 games its played against Louisville, going 12-2 in those contests. But coach Jimbo Fisher is making sure his Seminoles don't look past the Cardinals on Thursday.
''They'll be ready to play, and hopefully we'll be ready to play,'' Fisher said.
Here are some things to watch when Louisville hosts Florida State Thursday night:
DYER NEED: It took more than a year for Cardinals senior running back Michael Dyer to show he could still affect a game, but his 173-yard, two-touchdown performance against N.C. State arrived on time for Louisville. Besides becoming the latest back to shine this season with Brown and Radcliff, Dyer's 24 carries quelled concerns about his durability after a series of injuries. With ball control critical to Louisville's chances of beating FSU, Dyer might have to show the form that helped Auburn win a BCS title three years ago.
RASHAD GREENE: FSU's senior wide receiver leads the ACC in several categories including yards (791), catches (52) and yards per game (113.0). Louisville's nation-leading 15 interceptions might demonstrate the secondary's big-play ability, but its defenders must raise their games to keep FSU's offense from finding its go-to guy.
DEFENSIVE REBOUND: No one had to tell the Cardinals they had room for improvement after allowing 351 yards to N.C. State. Louisville's upside is that it still leads the nation in total defense with 245.8 yards allowed per game and is third in scoring defense (14.6). The challenge of facing Winston should motivate the Cardinals to put their worst game behind them.
FINISHING STRONG: Florida State has done most of its offensive damage in the second half, scoring on six of seven opening drives and registering 134 points against Power 5 conference opponents and Notre Dame after halftime. The Seminoles have scored just 88 points against those schools in the first 30 minutes.
THURSDAY NIGHT EXPERTS: Both schools have done well in Thursday night games. FSU is 9-5 including 8-4 in the ACC; Louisville is 10-7 and has won three of four including twice last year.