No. 4 Florida State is one of four Atlantic Coast Conference teams that are undefeated in league play.
The Seminoles (5-0, 3-0) may be the best of the bunch, but in order to support that claim, they’ll need to defeat visiting Syracuse (4-2, 0-2) on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida State is in the midst of a three-game homestand that began last weekend with a 39-17 victory over Virginia Tech. The Seminoles have tallied at least 31 points in every game this season and rank sixth in the nation in scoring (42.4).
Jordan Travis is the engine driving the Seminoles, as he’s passed for 12 touchdowns with only one interception. He has thrown two TDs with no picks in each of the last four games and completed a season-high 75 percent of his passes against the Hokies.
“I’m not going to enjoy watching him play,” quipped Syracuse coach Dino Babers, “but when you get done, he’s one of those guys that you do turn on the TV to watch because he plays at an extremely high level.”
Travis lit up the Orange last season, completing 21 of 23 passes for 155 yards and three TDs in a 38-3 shellacking. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 13-2 and are 7-0 at home against Syracuse.
Babers knows the challenge that awaits his team, which has been outscored 71-21 over the last two weeks and is in the midst of a 34-day stretch without a home game.
“We’ve beaten a team in the top five before, but it’s very, very difficult to do, and it’s extremely difficult to do when you’re at their place,” Babers said.
If they have any hopes of pulling the upset, the Orange will need a big day out of Garrett Shrader. The senior signal-caller has been held under 200 yards passing in three of the last four games and has thrown at least one interception in four straight contests.
He also has rushed for a total of 102 yards in the last three games after erupting for 195 rushing yards and four scores in last month’s win over Purdue.
“Obviously you look at the course of work that he’s done over the last couple years, he’s a very talented player and can do a lot of great things with his arm,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “If you account for everybody in the passing game and don’t have eyes and a body on him, he’ll definitely make you pay as a runner.”
On the other side of the ball, Syracuse leans on a dangerous defensive line that has helped the Orange lead the ACC in tackles for loss (7.8 per game). Linebacker Marlowe Wax is a major factor as well, having registered a team-high 45 tackles, three forced fumbles, two sacks and an interception.
“You’re not going to see a team that brings more variations of pressures,” Norvell said. “Just the different looks from three down to four down to — they can blitz everybody on the field at some point. You have to be great with your eyes. You have to be great with your technique. We had a couple slow reactions where we gave up pressures there the other day.”
–Field Level Media