Second-ranked Florida State enters Thursday night’s game at Louisville well-rested, having last seen the field a dozen days ago in a 31-27 home win over then-No. 5 Notre Dame. The Seminoles also enter the game with yet another cloud of controversy surrounding the program, this time with allegations of domestic abuse involving running back Karlos Williams. You can follow live updates throughout the game on this post.
But the matchup on the field is no easy task for reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and the defending national champion Seminoles. The Cardinals own college football’s No. 1 total defense and have been tough to beat at home.
The game is scheduled to air at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN. Florida State is 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC, while Louisville is 6-2, 4-2.
Here’s what you need to know about the game:
1. Another Week, Another Dose of Controversy For FSU
Winston’s brushes with the law and on-campus problems have been well-documented since he arrived in Tallahassee. In fact, the decorated quarterback still faces a school-conducted Title IX hearing for an alleged sexual assault from 2012. Winston was never criminally charged.
Now, running back Karlos Williams has been accused of physically assaulting his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his son and pregnant with the couple’s second child. On Wednesday, Williams’ girlfriend formally asked the Tallahassee Police Department to not charge Williams. The Associated Press reported the Tallahassee PD will continue their investigation despite the request. Like Winston, Williams also faces a school conduct hearing.
According to head coach Jimbo Fisher, both will play against Louisville.
And in a strange situation Wednesday, Florida State held its practice in a Louisville public park next to a Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant (Insert Jameis Winston crab leg joke here). You can read about it here.
The controversy hasn’t seemed to bother the Seminoles. They are undefeated heading into the game.
2. FSU Owns UL in The All-Time Series
This will be the 15th meeting between Florida State and Louisville and the Seminoles hold a 12-2 series advantage. The Cardinals won the first meeting in 1952 and the most recent game, a 26-20 overtime win in 2002. The Seminoles have won the rest.
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium has a capacity of 55,000. UL is 4-0 at home this season, while FSU is 3-0 on the road, which includes a win at a neutral site. Since 2012, the Cardinals are 16-2 in the House That Papa built.
3. Both Teams Have Offensive Playmakers
Everybody knows about Winston. He won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and has been putting up solid numbers again in his sophomore campaign. He’s averaging 313 passing yards and has thrown for 13 touchdowns (and has added 2 more on the ground) in 6 games. Receiver Rashad Greene has caught 4 of those touchdowns and is averaging over 7 receptions and 113 yards per game. Williams averages 4.6 yards per carry and has rushed for 7 TDs.
Louisville is known for its defense (more on that in a minute), but the Cardinals offense is getting healthy at the right time. NFL prospect wide receiver DeVante Parker returned to the lineup after missing the first 7 games with a foot injury to record 9 catches for 132 yards on Oct. 18 vs. N.C. State. The 6-3 senior will be targeted often by quarterback Will Gardner, who, despite an early season knee injury, has returned to throw 11 touchdowns. Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer is coming off a 173-yard performance which also saw him score his first touchdown of the season. He has also been dealing with a variety of injuries which kept him off the field.
4. Louisville’s Defense Packs a Punch
Here are some numbers on Louisville you might not have expected:
Total Defense – 243.9 yards per game, No. 1 overall in FBS
Scoring Defense – 14.6 points per game, No. 4 overall in FBS
Rushing Defense – 66.9 yards per game, No. 1 overall in FBS
Passing Defense – 177.0 yards per game, No. 10 overall in FBS
Passes Intercepted – 15, No. 2 in FBS
First Downs Allowed – 104, Tied for No. 3 in FBS
You get the point, the Cardinals can play some D. But they haven’t faced an offense like Florida State’s yet. The Seminoles are averaging 37.9 points per game, good for 18th in the FBS. Winston has led FSU to at least 30 points in each of his 6 starts. Florida State also has the top red zone offense in the country, scoring 33 times (23 touchdowns, 10 field goals) in 34 chances inside the 20 yard line.
Louisville’s offense averages 30.9 points per game, which places them 55th in the country.
5. The Head Coaches Win Games
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has the Seminoles riding a 24-game winning streak. Their last loss came on Nov. 24, 2012, to Florida, 37-26. Fisher is 52-10 in his career at Florida State, which began in 2010. He led FSU to the National Championship last season with a 14-0 record.
Bobby Petrino is in his second stint with Louisville. Petrino led UL to a 41-9 record in his first go with the Cardinals from 2003-2006. Petrino bounced around between college and the NFL (much of it filled with controversy) before landing back at Louisville prior to this season. At 47-11 overall with the Cardinals, he has led the team to 22 straight home wins, dating back to 2006. Petrino is in his 10th season as a college head coach and has an overall record of 89-32.