If you listen to the talking heads on TV and the Internet, Florida State’s last real chance to lose in the regular season is Thursday night, when the Seminoles head north to play the Louisville Cardinals. But there’s one stat that suggests FSU’s remaining schedule is a lot tougher than some say.
To this point, Florida State has played one defense that currently ranks in the top-25 for yards allowed per game. That team is Clemson, ranked No. 3 and giving up an average of 269 yards per game. In other words, aside from that gritty overtime victory over the Tigers, FSU hasn’t faced many defensive juggernauts.
The Cardinals are ranked No. 1 in the country in defense going into this Thursday night scuffle, allowing just 248 yards per game. Arguably the toughest opponent the Cards have faced to date is a Clemson squad that was without star freshman phenom Deshaun Watson, but a top-ranked defense – this deep into the season – is going to be stout, no matter who they’ve played.
Through eight games, the Cardinals’ defense has yet to allow anyone to score more than 23 points on them, but that seems to be the magic number for FSU to win the game, since both of Louisville’s losses have come to teams that scored 23. That shouldn’t be too tough a task for the Seminoles, who have fought through numerous key injuries on offense and have yet to be held under 30 points in any game started by quarterback Jameis Winston.
Still, points will be at a premium in Louisville, and if the Seminoles fall behind by two or three touchdowns early, they could be looking at their first loss in nearly two years.
Should FSU make it past Louisville unscathed, the schedule will get easier, sure, but they still have to face several solid defenses down the stretch. They’ll face Virginia next (No. 21 defensively), followed by a road game in Miami (No. 15) and two home games to finish out the slate – Boston College (No. 8) and Florida (No. 12).
For all the talk about FSU only having one tough game left on their schedule, there are still several land mines the Seminoles will have to dodge.
Is it a Murderers’ Row of games? Not at all.
But it’s a month of games filled with defenses competent enough that FSU’s offense can’t sleepwalk at any point, or it could cause the dream of a spot in the College Football Playoff to melt away into a disturbing nightmare for fans of the Seminoles.