TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State and Syracuse are in similar spots: Both desperately need a victory.
The Seminoles (3-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) face off against the Orange (3-4, 0-3) on Saturday looking to build some kind of momentum for the stretch run. In what has been a disappointing season for both programs, Florida State and Syracuse look to keep their bowl hopes alive on the final week of October.
"This game means a lot because we need a win," FSU coach Willie Taggart said.
Florida State has dropped its last two games and Taggart has spent the week evaluating quarterbacks James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook, indicating that he has made a decision but not announcing which will start.
Blackman has started six of seven games for FSU, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Syracuse coach Dino Babers is in a similar position.
He is taking a look at quarterbacks Tommy DeVito and Clayton Welch. DeVito took a hard hit in last week's loss to Pittsburgh and said he was able to return to the game, but Babers felt the risk of further injury was a factor and played Clayton Welch. The senior completed just 8 of 20 passes but tossed two interceptions.
"If he's able to go, we're going to play him," Babers said of DeVito.
The Orange still do not have a win over a Power Five program. While some of the results have been within a touchdown, Babers said "we're not in it to be close."
"We're going to do whatever we've always done or we will change and do some things that we've never done to try to find a way to find that first (ACC) win," Babers said.
The Seminoles are also looking to jump-start their season. Taggart is 8-11 in his second year at Florida State and likely can't afford to miss out on a bowl trip for a second season if he expects to return.
"I think we're all trying to find a way to get back in the win column," Taggart said of the situation that Florida State and Syracuse are in.
Some other things to watch when the Seminoles and Orange play Saturday:
SACKS AND MORE SACKS
In losses to then-No. 1 Clemson, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh, Syracuse allowed an inordinate number of sacks. The Orange now lead the nation in sacks allowed with 35, and 25 have come in those three losses.
"It gets frustrating at times," senior defensive end Kendall Coleman said. "But at the end of the day we're all one team. We (the defense) will have their back the whole way through and keep playing hard.
"We've got to put together a full game."
AKERS CLIMBING CHARTS
Junior tailback Cam Akers has 2,503 rushing yards and could move into sixth-place on Florida State's all-time rushing list on Saturday as he approaches No. 7 Greg Jones (2,535) and No. 6 Sammie Smith (2,539).
"Cam Akers is one of the top backs in the ACC," Babers said. "The guy literally breaks a lot of tackles. It's really hard for one guy to bring him down."
Syracuse punter Sterling Hofrichter was named a captain last week and has done his share to help the Orange. He leads the ACC with 19 punts downed inside the 20 this season, is tied with Virginia Tech's Oscar Bradburn for the league lead with 16 punts of 50 or more yards, and ranks 15th nationally with a gross punting average of 45.3 yards.
Hofrichter's booming kicks have produced a few turnovers, too.
"We're just going to come out and try to play our best game of the season," Hofrichter said as he prepared for Florida State. "I've just got to focus on what I can do to help the team."
RED-ZONE BRIGHT SPOT
Florida State's defense has allowed 19 touchdowns on 39 red-zone trips by opponents. The touchdown percentage of 48.7 is the second-lowest in the ACC.
Florida State will be honoring its 1999 national championship team as they hold a 20-year reunion before Saturday's game. More than half of the team, as well as the majority of the coaching staff, are expected to return for the reunion.
AP Sports writer John Kekis in Syracuse, New York contributed to this report.
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