The Thursday night (7:30pm ET) game of the week features a pair of ACC teams with the 2nd ranked Florida St. Seminoles (7-0) taking on the host Louisville Cardinals (6-2) at Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville, KT. FSU had a bye last week after holding off Notre Dame at home the previous week 31-27 with the aid of a an offensive pass interference call against the Irish in the final seconds of the game that nullified what would have been a game-winning touchdown. FSU has defeated Oklahoma St. (37-31), NC State (56-41) and Syracuse away from Tallahassee this season. Louisville also had a bye last week, they defeated NC State at home in their last action two weeks ago, and lost at Clemson 23-17 the week prior to that. Their other loss also came on the road against Virginia in week 3 (23-21). Notable wins for the Cardinals include their opener at home over Miami (31-13), and at Syracuse (28-6).
The Seminoles rank 18th nationally in scoring offense with 37.9 points per game and 44th in total offense with 442.6 yards per game. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has not lost as a collegiate starter, and has been has played well in the clutch, when it counts for the Seminoles and has never been held below 30 points. FSU ranks 29th nationally in scoring defense with 21.6 PPG allowed and 53rd in total defense with 374.4 YPG allowed.
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Louisville ranks 55th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 30.9 PPG and 91st in total offense with 370.4 YPG. Quarterback Will Gardner and wide receiver DeVante Parker are back from injury and healthy, which should give the unit a boost in terms of production. The Cardinals rank 4th nationally in scoring defense with 14.6 PGP allowed and #1 in total defense with 243.9 YPG allowed.
Florida St. vs. Louisville Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Florida St. Seminoles -4
@Louisville Cardinals +4
Over 50.5 (-110)
Under 50.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Florida St. vs. Louisville Pick:
Defending BCS National Champion Florida St. holds the longest active winning streak in the nation at 23 games. The last meeting between the two teams was also a Thursday night affair in Louisville, a 26-20 win for the Cardinals over a then-4th ranked FSU team.
Louisville does not have a running game to speak of; ranking 87th nationally with 144.6 YPG on the ground, and their offense has struggled overall this season. Their calling card is their outstanding defense that ranks #1 in raw and adjusted Total QBR (12.5/14.7) and 5th in sacks with 28. Louisville is also tough against the run, ranking #1 with 2.31 YPC allowed. They have the personnel and scheme necessary to make life difficult for Winston and the Seminoles. With Gardner, Parker and running back Michael Dyer all healthy, the Cardinals have the horses to challenge an FSU secondary that has not been as good as last season at 62nd nationally.
The key match-up is the Louisville defense against the FSU offense and Jameis Winston. The Seminoles have no running game this season, and they would not have much luck running against the Cardinals even if they did, so it all comes down to Winston. He has rallied FSU when he needs to pull out closer than expected wins against Oklahoma St., NC State and Notre Dame. When tied or trailing, Winston is 144-of-199 passing (72%) for 1,860 yards (9.3 YPA), 16 TDs and 4 INTs. It is difficult to pick against the Seminoles given those numbers, even against a top-notch defense on the road. Winston has been a money player in the clutch, take FSU here.