Photo courtesy of wlpearce.com/FSU athletics
In another key match-up for a rebuilding football team, Florida State hosts the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday. FSU hopes to get back on track after an embarrassing showing against conference foe Louisville, and have had an extra week to prepare.
While the ‘Noles have had ups and downs, the Panthers started hot and slowed. Pittsburgh won three straight to begin the season, but has dropped its last four games.
Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 5-4, although the two teams have only faced off once since 1983. The most recent meeting was in 2013, which saw then-head coach Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles clobber the Panthers 41-13 in quarterback Jameis Winston’s freshman debut.
FLORIDA STATE VS PITTSBURGH
- Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL
- Saturday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. ET (ACC Network)
- FSU -2, O/U 51
- Last Game:
- FSU: L, 16-48, Lousville
- Pitt: L, 3-45, Notre Dame
WHEN FSU’S ON OFFENSE
Florida State is looking to get right after an abysmal offensive day against Louisville. The ‘Noles ran the ball well, but ended drives with key drops, penalties, and miscues. When they got behind, the game script changed quickly, and FSU’s passing attack wasn’t good enough to overcome the deficit. Quarterback Jordan Travis appeared to be playing hurt as well, so that factor likely limited game planning.
The Seminole offense heads into the weekend ranked 66th, per ESPN’s SP+ rankings. Their ineptitude against the Cardinals caused the unit to fall 10 places.
Unfortunately for FSU, Pittsburgh has a stout defense. The Panthers have the 20th overall defense, per ESPN’s SP+ rankings, and are 32nd in the country in defensive efficiency. Led by defensive lineman Patrick Jones II, Pittsburgh’s front seven is only allowing 69.1 rushing yards per game. The ‘Noles have to hope their wide receiving corps has cured their case of the drops in addition to Travis being healthy, because they simply will not be able to establish the run on this defense.
WHEN FSU’S ON DEFENSE
Florida State’s defense also took a tumble after their awful display against the Cardinals. Missed assignments and bad tackling abounded as the ‘Noles gave up 569 total yards of offense. FSU has not been able to find an answer so far defensively, and the result this week is a 15-rank tumble to 86th overall, per ESPN’s SP+.
Only 16 teams in the country have less efficient defenses than the Seminoles at this point in the season.
Luckily for FSU, it has a get-right match-up against an awful Pittsburgh offense. The Panthers are ranked 93rd offensively, per ESPN’s SP+ rankings. Most of those yards have come through the air, as Pittsburgh has failed to average 100 rushing yards per game. FSU’s defense will still need to play at a higher level to stop any offense, let alone this offense, but it at least gets a plus match-up.
Both teams are looking at game-time decisions for star players. For Pittsburgh, quarterback Kenny Pickett has been sluggish in practice, and playing him this weekend is seen as a potentially risky move. For Florida State, star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen and stud wideout Tamorrion Terry have both returned to practice, but their outlooks for the upcoming game are unclear.
A major blow for Pittsburgh’s secondary was landed last week, as junior safety Paris Ford opted out of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft. Ford was Pittsburgh’s leading tackler when he declared, tallying 41 total tackles and a team-high three interceptions through seven games.
John: Pitt, 24-14. This will be the battle of the two worst offenses in the conference. The difference is Pitt’s front seven is elite.
James: FSU, 27-20. FSU hasn’t been able to score more than 21 points on offense lately, so look for that trend to continue.
Mike: FSU, 24-22. This contest will come down to whether Jordan Travis can make plays against Pittsburgh’s stout defense or Joey Yellen can make plays against FSU’s turnstile defense. Paris Ford serves as a big loss for the Panthers. FSU would be helped greatly by having either Tamorrion Terry or Hamsah Nasirildeen play this week.
Jake: FSU, 23-17. This is going to be a low-scoring affair. FSU will be unable to get a run game going against Pitt’s elite front seven, but the secondary is now exposed with Paris Ford’s absence. The Panther offense is not good, so FSU fans will get a glimmer of false hope as they fail to score on the road.