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Louisville Cardinals vs. Florida State Seminoles Preview and Prediction

Everett Golson

Everett Golson

The 2015 season did not start well forLouisville. An ugly season-opening loss to Auburn was immediately followed by losses to Houston and Clemson. Coupled with some bad news out of the basketball program, September was a cruel month for Louisville.

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But after a win against FCS Samford, Louisville got back to 1-1 in the ACC with a win over NC State. Also, the losses to Clemson and Houston, while certainly not acceptable considering how both games played out, don’t look that bad now.

The Cardinals go to Tallahassee this Saturday to take on the unbeaten Seminoles. Florida State has jumped out to a 3-0 conference start, though they have yet to have a convincing ACC victory. Louisville was off last Saturday while Florida State beat archrival Miami 29-24.

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Louisville at Florida State

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Florida State -7

Three Things to Watch

1. Louisville’s Rush Defense Against Dalvin Cook

Isn’t this the top priority for every team facing Florida State? Except for Boston College and their top ranked run defense, no one has been able to contain the Florida State star running back. After suffering a hamstring injury against Wake Forest, Cook looked mighty fine against Miami despite an early game cramp, running for 222 yards on 22 carries. He had two touchdowns, including the game winner with 6:44 remaining. Louisville held NC State’s Matt Dayes to 68 yards, but Wayne Gallman of Clemson had a big day against the Cardinals. Cook will get his yardage; the Cardinals just have to make sure he does not single-handedly win the game.

2. Containing Lamar Jackson

After a quarterback battle that continued into the season, the Cardinals have found their quarterback and he is Lamar Jackson. The Boynton Beach, Fla., product was a nightmare for the Wolfpack, rushing for 121 yards and a score. Through six games, Jackson is the team’s leading rusher with 435 yards. The freshman’s running ability is of concern to Charles Kelly’s defense, but his passing has not been strong. In the NC State game, Jackson was just 10-of-27 for 103 yards. On the season, he is completing 53 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four picks. The Seminoles would like to limit Jackson in the running game and make him beat them from the pocket.

3. Florida State Continuing to Limit Turnovers

Quarterback Everett Golson has not been asked to do many crazy things this season. He’s also not turned the ball over in five games for the Seminoles. Notre Dame fans are scratching their heads at that fact. FSU as a team has been very successful in not giving the ball away this season. They are tied with LSU for the top spot in college football with just one turnover. In tight games like the ones Florida State has been playing, not surrendering possessions is important.

Final Analysis

This is a tough spot for Florida State. The Noles just had a tough battle with the Hurricanes and the noon kickoff could result in some sleepiness at the start. Louisville is starting to play better, especially on defense, and the Seminoles offense outside of Cook has not gotten rolling. Despite all of that, the Louisville offense is not one that should give Florida State that much trouble. The Cardinals are No. 71 in passing offense and much of that is because of Kyle Bolin, who is no longer the starter. Running back Brandon Radcliff is averaging less than 50 yards per game. Florida State’s defense is too good to let Jackson beat them by running the football alone. The Noles should be on upset alert, but they will beat Louisville.

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Prediction: Florida State 20, Louisville 10

— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.