LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As Louisville fans gear up for what they think will be a likely upset at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in perhaps the most anticipated football game in school history, why not give them more ammunition to forget that the opposing team is led by the reigning Heisman-trophy-winning quarterback who has never lost a start?
En route to a national championship last season, Jameis Winston and Florida State dominated teams. But because final scores this year aren't as lopsided as they were in 2013, the Seminoles "are down" this year, some like to say. Before we dispense with a statistical breakdown that could lean Louisville's way, however, let's remember that the squad wearing garnet and gold hasn't lost a football game since 2012.
That their contests are closer this year doesn't necessarily signal a scratched-up luster. It rather reveals that Winston and his mates are calm under pressure, never flinching in tight games when stakes are high. Did you see their season opener against Oklahoma State? Or how about that Clemson game? And that Notre Dame nailbiter?
Thursday's meeting will be Florida State's first true road test this season. It will be at night. Under lights. Televised on ESPN.
Most of all, it will be fun. More fun even than pouring through statistical data. Alas, here are some interesting head-to-head numbers:
Points per game:
+ Florida State's offense ranks 19th in the country, scoring 37.9
+ Louisville's defense ranks 4th, allowing 14.6
Passing yards per game:
+ Florida State's offense ranks 14th, averaging 316.7 yards
+ Louisville's defense ranks 10th, allowing 177.0
And some comparisons ...
Time of possession per game:
+ Louisville ranks 13th, averaging 33:11
+ Florida State ranks 74th, averaging 29:28
Sacks per game:
+ Louisville ranks 7th, averaging 3.5
+ Florida State ranks 98th, averaging 1.57
Other notable numbers ...
+ Florida State kicker Robert Aguayo has made all 14 of his field-goal attempts this year
+ Louisville is ranked No. 1 in rushing defense, allowing 68.8 yards per game
+ Louisville is ranked No. 2 in the country with 15 interceptions
+ Louisville is ranked No. 2 in the country on third-down defense, allowing a conversion rate below 25 percent
Each team is coming off a bye week, so they'll be rested. That may favor Louisville just a little bit, as wideout DeVante Parker works his way back to full health. He returned for the North Carolina State game on Oct. 18, and at 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, could give FSU's defensive backs some trouble like Notre Dame's Corey Robinson, another big and fast wideout, did two weeks ago.
Depending how badly Louisvillians disrupted FSU's workout on Wednesday at Waterfront Park, that could be a factor, too. Not really, but we just wanted to remind you that that actually happened.
It's hard to tell what the numbers bear out. The visitors are capable of scoring points. The home team is capable of the upset. The X factor likely will be UofL quarterback Will Gardner, who doesn't exactly light up a scoreboard, but he's healthy again and playing at home under the lights in a nationally televised game. The last time he did that, UofL breezed by Miami two months ago, 31-13.
Lastly, with UofL's ability to both sack the quarterback and intercept him, the Cards will need more of the same and to force Winston into a few bad decisions, which he doesn't make often.
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