CFB Preview: No. 2 Florida State at No. 10 Louisville
Florida State got good news and bad news following last week's 52-8 thrashing of Charleston Southern that moved the Seminoles to 2-0.
First, the good.
A dominating performance -- coupled with then-No. 2 Clemson's narrow 30-24 escape against Troy -- allowed the Seminoles to leapfrog their ACC rivals from No. 3 to No. 2 in the latest national rankings.
Now, the bad: During the victory, Florida State lost arguably its best player on either side of the ball just days before the mammoth road showdown with No. 10 Louisville (2-0). The Seminoles and Cardinals clash at noon ET Saturday in Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium with an ABC television audience looking on.
Florida State Preseason All-American defensive back Derwin James suffered a cartilage tear in his left knee during the Charleston Southern game and could be out as long as 10 weeks -- or as little as two, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said.
James did not tear his ACL, as some around the program had feared, and Fisher said he expects his defensive star to be back this season -- although he is unsure when. James was injured in third quarter when Florida State was well ahead, 42-6.
Fisher added that there was "no structural damage" to James' knee, but that the injury would certainly keep him out of the game against the Cardinals, who come into the game with the No. 1-rated offense in FBS led by arguably the current Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Lamar Jackson, at quarterback.
The Cardinals offense has been one of the most dynamic in the country through two games, as Jackson has leapt into Heisman contention with a series of performances impressive on both the stat sheets and on the highlight film. And Florida State's defense has allowed more 20-plus-yard pass plays than any team in a Power 5 conference.
Despite unbelievable early numbers and the hype that goes along with them, however, Louisville coach Bobby Petrino knows that his is the team that enters the weekend with something to prove.
"They've been to the championship game. They've got a ring on their finger," Petrino said of the 'Noles. "We knew that if we were going to make a run in this conference or run to get to the goal that we want, that we had to find a way to beat them, so we are looking forward to the matchup."
Jackson last week became first in ACC history in total offense with his 610 yards against Syracuse. He wound up with 411 yards passing and 199 rushing -- and was over 200 yards rushing late in the game before losing a few late in the contest.
"I did good, I guess, but I still have room for improvement," Jackson said. "I made a lot of bad reads, but I think I did all right."
The Seminoles have their own Heisman candidate in junior running back Dalvin Cook. Cook will be expected to carry even more of the load this week -- both on the field and from a leadership standpoint -- with James out.
"We're pleased how he's playing," said Fisher of Cook, who tallied 192 combined yards rushing and receiving in the season-opening victory against Ole Miss, then scored twice in the home opener against the Buccaneers while racking up 83 yards in a little over two quarters of work. "That's still where he was last year, 7.5 yards a carry. He had a first 100-yard receiving game. He's just evolving and developing as a player in different ways."
Cook piled up 223 yards total (163 rushing, 60 receiving) and also scored twice against the Cardinals last year.
The Seminoles will be playing their first ACC game. Louisville began its conference slate at Syracuse last Friday with a 62-28 rout of the Orange.
This will be the 17th meeting between the two teams overall but just the third as conference cohorts. Florida State has won the previous two such meetings but trailed in both games.
In 2014, the Cardinals jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter before Heisman winner Jameis Winston rallied the Seminoles to a 42-31 win. Last year the Cardinals led 7-6 at the half before the 'Noles took over and romped to a 41-21 victory.