TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State and Louisville are programs rich in football tradition. The Seminoles won a third national title in 2013, while the Cardinals were led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Lamar Jackson in 2016.
But both have recently fallen on hard times.
Louisville didn't win a game in Atlantic Coast Conference play last season and lost all of its matchups against Power Five opponents in 2018. Florida State finished with a losing record, going 5-7.
Both will be looking to build confidence in programs that are trying to reverse course after recent misfortunes when the square off Saturday.
"I know a lot of things have been said, the media and this and that about them," Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. "They're still Florida State. They still have a lot of great players. And you turn on the film, and you can see it and you can see how, you know, great size, good speed, really good speed. For whatever reason, they've not closed it out in the second half of games, but they obviously have a lot of potential to be really good."
Coach Willie Taggart was optimistic that the Seminoles would turn things around in year 2 in Tallahassee. The offense has been inconsistent but more productive — averaging 33.3 points per game, which is far more than the 21.9-point average from 2018. But the defense has let second-half leads slip away in its first three games, and the Seminoles have only been able to salvage an overtime win over Louisiana-Monroe.
Florida State (1-2, 0-1 ACC) has lost its games to teams both currently ranked in the Top 25, No. 20 Boise State and No. 21 Virginia. Taggart sees progress but is also disappointed that the Seminoles haven't closed out wins.
"I thought we improved," Taggart said. "I thought our guys did a good job against the run and played well for three quarters until the fourth quarter."
Louisville (2-1, 0-0) is looking for its first win over a Power Five team since routing Kentucky 44-17 in Nov. 2017 in what was Jackson's final regular-season game. The Cardinals went 2-10 last year and brought in Satterfield to pick up the pieces.
The former Appalachian State coach has rebuilt the Cardinals, who are the No. 17 rushing offense in the FBS. Led by freshman tailback Javian Hawkins (338 rushing yards, 6.9 yards per carry), Louisville averages 260.3 yards per game.
Here are some other things to watch when the Seminoles and Cardinals play Saturday:
Satterfield has not announced a starting quarterback for Saturday but he is expected to make a game-time decision between Jawon Pass and Malik Cunningham, a school spokesperson confirmed. Pass (foot) did not play against Western Kentucky, and Cunningham, who started, left the game after taking a hit to the head. Evan Conley, a freshman, threw a touchdown pass in his college debut.
PLAYING TIME FOR NO. 2?
James Blackman has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 843 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. While Blackman has thrown three touchdowns in each game, a few throws to wide-open receivers in last week's loss at Virginia have left the door open for criticism. Taggart hinted that No. 2 quarterback Alex Hornibrook, a graduate transfer from Wisconsin, would make his Florida State debut on Saturday.
"We have some plays and things where we want to be able to get Alex in," Taggart said.
Louisville features 18 players from the Sunshine State on its roster. Among those are receiver Tutu Atwell, a Miami native who had a career-best three touchdown catches in the win over Western Kentucky. Hawkins, who is from Titusville, Florida., narrowly missed a third straight 100-yard rushing game.
TIME NOT ON THEIR SIDE
Florida State ranks last in the FBS in time of possession, holding the ball for just 23 minutes and 10 seconds. The Seminoles have scored 11 more points per game than last fall but an up-tempo scheme implemented by offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has led to boom or bust drives: Florida State has often scored quickly but also frequently gone three and out. That put the Seminoles' defense on the field for 39 minutes and 44 seconds in the loss to Virginia. The Seminoles' defense wore down late and allowed touchdowns on the Cavaliers' final three drives.
GOING FOR 300
Florida State opened Doak Campbell Stadium in 1950 with a 40-7 rout of Randolph-Macon. The wins have built up through the years, with the Seminoles accumulating 299 home victories going into Saturday's game.
AP Sports writer Gary Graves in Louisville contributed to this story
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