Two teams trending in opposite directions will square off Saturday night when No. 23 Florida State visits Syracuse in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
The Seminoles (6-3, 4-3) are coming off two lopsided victories — 41-16 against Georgia Tech on Oct. 29 and a 45-3 dismantling of Miami last Saturday — but the Orange (6-3, 3-2) have lost three straight games.
Florida State had lost three in a row — all close contests in the final minutes — before putting up 1,096 total yards over the past two contests.
Jordan Travis had more touchdown passes (three) than incompletions (one) against Miami, while Trey Benson (15 carries, 128 yards, two TDs) was the headliner of a 229-yard rushing attack.
“This is an offense that’s built for playmakers,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said this week. “… Now, there’s no secret that Jordan Travis is an incredible playmaker. He has played at an exceptional level, and he’s got great pieces around him.”
Travis threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Georgia Tech. He also starred in last season’s 33-30 win over Syracuse, throwing for two touchdowns and running for 113 yards in a 33-30 victory.
Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader also had a big day on the ground in that one. He ran for a game-high 137 yards and three TDs; however, his availability for Saturday’s game is up in the air.
The senior quarterback has missed the past 1 1/2 games with a concussion. Backup Carlos Del Rio-Wilson struggled in his place in last week’s 19-9 loss at Pitt, connecting on just 8 of 23 passes for 120 yards.
“It’s difficult to turn this into too much of a passing team and not a balanced football team,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said after watching standout tailback Sean Tucker run for a season-low 19 yards on just 10 carries.
In addition to Tucker, Orange wideout Oronde Gadsden II is looking to bounce back after getting held without a reception against Pitt. He leads the team with 41 catches, 671 yards and six receiving touchdowns.
“They’re going to have their plan of attack for whichever quarterback steps on the field,” Norvell said of the Orange. “They’ve got one of the best running backs in the country there in the backfield. Gadsden, the tight end/flex receiver, he is a matchup problem for everybody that they face. … This is a group that can really do some challenging things. I think they do a great job schematically. We’ve got our work cut out for us on that end.”
Speaking of dynamic offenses, Florida State leads the nation in drives of 80-plus yards (15) and 90-plus yards (seven), as well as plays covering at least 20 yards (69).
The Seminoles already have clinched the 49th bowl appearance in program history.
“They are absolutely on fire. They’ve done some amazing things in a year,” Babers said.
The Orange won their first-ever matchup with the Seminoles in 1966 but have lost 12 of the past 13 meetings.
–Field Level Media