TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Louisville and Florida State have a lot on the line when they meet on Saturday, just not the stakes that many thought before the season.
Instead of the matchup being a major factor determining the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division race, both teams are struggling to get bowl eligible. They each have challenging schedules the rest of the way, which makes this week's game even more vital.
The Cardinals (4-3, 1-3 ACC), who haven't missed playing in a bowl game since 2009, have dropped three of their last four and were upset 45-42 last Saturday by Boston College . The Seminoles (2-3, 2-2), who have a 35-year bowl streak, have been under .500 all season after losing starting quarterback Deondre Francois in the Sept. 2 season opener against Alabama.
Fan in the stands: "New Coaches, New Coaches!". Jimbo Fisher in response: "Bring your a@# down here and say that!". Whoa. FSU loses 31-28 pic.twitter.com/QJBCf9Kkz3— joe rondone (@joerondone) October 21, 2017
Freshman James Blackman has shown progress in each of his four starts, but FSU and Illinois are the only Power Five schools that haven't scored 25 points or more in a game this season. A big reason why the Seminoles have been able to move the ball better is the running game, which is averaging 193.3 yards over the past three games with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick.
"You're starting to see us develop much more of an identity by running the football well but you've got to put points on the board," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Louisville's defense has allowed 200 or more rushing yards twice this season, including 364 last week to Boston College.
"Every team in America has adversity, and certainly, we're going through that right now. You have to keep working and getting better," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.
One player who isn't struggling for the Cardinals is quarterback Lamar Jackson , who leads the nation in total offense at 430.3 yards per game. The reigning Heisman winner has 21 games of 300 yards or more of offense in his career, which is tied with Chris Redmond for the most in school history.