Tampa Bay Sports Day

BEAIRD: Cards, ‘Noles in Key ACC Showdown in Louisville

Sports Day college football columnist Brent Beaird takes a look at this week’s key matchups involving state schools.

FLORIDA STATE(2-0) AT LOUISVILLE (2-0): Meet Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Last Friday night in a win over Syracuse, Jackson threw for 411 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He was a yard shy of being the first player in college football history to throw for 400 and run for 200. Louisville ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring offense with 66 points per game and No. 1 in total offense with 754.0 yards per game. Jackson, who played at Boynton Beach (Fla.) Community High in Palm Beach County, was a four-star dual threat quarterback coming out of high school.

Defensively, Louisville is improved under former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. The defense has its share of quality players too with the likes of Keith Kelsey, Devonte Fields, Shaq Wiggins and Josh Harvey-Clemsons.

This is arguably the biggest game in Louisville history. The ESPN GameDay crew will be on hand. Can Louisville stand the pressure of the spotlight?

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said heralded defensive back Derwin James is out for up to six weeks. He could be back in time by the Clemson game on Oct. 29. The Noles have one of the few defenses in the nation that could contain Jackson. FSU has created seven turnovers already. They had only 15 last season. The Noles are on pace to force 45 this season. FSU finds a way to win the game.

FLORIDA (2-0) HOSTS NORTH TEXAS (1-1): This is just a tune up game for the Gators who hit on all cylinders last week against hapless Kentucky. Florida’s defense intercepted Wildcat quarterback Patrick Towles three times. Gator quarterback Luke Del Rio has been solid. The Gators have done well with running backs by committee. The defensive stars were linebacker Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone and defensive backs Quincy Wilson and Jalen Tabor. Kicker Eddy Pineiro thrilled the crowd with a 54 yard field goal. Florida’s schedule has allowed them to work out the kinks before heading to Knoxville next week to face Tennessee.

MIAMI (2-0) AT APPLACHIAN STATE (1-1): No, this is not a misprint. Miami is actually going to App State, the same team that nearly beat Tennessee in season opener. The Canes have been on fire in their first two games both wins against FAMU and FAU setting a school record with 108 points. The old record was 104 by both the 1998 and 2002 teams. Mark Walton became the first Miami running back since 2005 to rush for four touchdowns, Joe Yearby added 121 yards and a touchdown.The defensive under Manny Diaz has been very good. The Canes had 13 tackles for loss in last week’s win. Last year they had 66 total TFL all season. Miami’s defense will have it’s hands full with App State quarterback Taylor Lamb and running back Marcus Cox, who has 248 rushing yards and three scores. The Canes win a closer than expected game.

USF (2-0) AT SYRACUSE (1-1): USF comes in the hot and humid Carrier Dome after Syracuse sustained a 34-point home loss to a top-ten Louisville team. The Bulls have won their previous games against Towson and Northern Illinois by an average score of 52-18.5. USF averages 7.11 yards per play which is good for No. 14 in the country. Those numbers are even more impressive because USF played without injured running back Marlon Mack who was struggling with a (concussion.His status for Saturday is questionable. UFS beat Syracuse last season 45-21 in Tampa. USF continues its winning ways this week.

UCF (1-1) HOSTS MARYLAND (2-0): UCF lost to Michigan 51-17 last week. If the Knights rush for just 16 yards against Maryland Saturday, they will reach half of last season’s rushing total with nine games remaining in the regular season. Against Michigan, UCF struggled on special teams with two of their punts partially blocked and a field goal was blocked. The Knights return game was not much better.

Maryland has started the coach DJ Durkin era by outscoring the opposition 93-27 in a pair of blowout wins against Howard and FIU. in a dominating 41-14 victory. Perry Hills has completed 73 percent of his passes while Trey Edmunds and Lorenzo Harrison have done well at running back. Look for the Knights to crank up the running game after Maryland allowed FIU to run for 202 yards. UCF should get the win.