No. 13 Florida State got a world-class humbling at Louisville last weekend. Lamar Jackson made the Seminoles look like Syracuse, and the Cardinals blew them out. FSU went from squarely in the College Football Playoff picture to the outskirts of that conversation, now likely in need of a perfect 10-game run to make the top four at the season's end.
That quest starts Saturday, with a game in Tampa against South Florida. The Bulls are 3-0 and have built nicely upon last season's strong finish under head coach Willie Taggart. The Bulls have an excellent running back in Marlon Mack, who missed time earlier in the month but returned last week against Syracuse to run for a cool 115 yards on nine carries. (It's not been a good September for the Orange defense, needless to say).
USF's dangerous, and FSU doesn't get the benefit of playing this game at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Noles are 11-3 under Jimbo Fisher in the game after a loss, but this one isn't a gimme.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: Noon ET, ABC. The broadcasters are Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, and Allison Williams.
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: The Seminoles opened as 5.5-point favorites.
Three big things to know
1. Florida State's got to fix, uh, everything. The Seminoles team that lost at Louisville last weekend was a discordant mess. It wouldn't have beaten the same South Florida team it will play Saturday. Mack is one of the best running backs in the country, and he looks very much on top of his game. Louisville ripped apart the Noles for 6.8 yards per rush and scored seven touchdowns just on the ground, and it didn't even look difficult. This has been a busy week, surely, for Noles defensive coordinator Charles Kelly.
2. USF's offense is a good time. Mack is the headliner here, but also keep an eye on quarterback Quinton Flowers. He's an athlete, and he's taken off 31 times for a 4.8-yard average and a couple of touchdowns. He's not the most accurate passer, but he's got seven touchdowns against one pick so far. Receivers Rodney Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling look to be among the better targets in the American. So far, the Bulls have scored 50 points per game.
3. Deondre Francois gets a chance to respond. Francois could hardly have been better in his debut three weeks ago, but he wasn't good against Louisville. It's not Francois' fault that he got clobbered all afternoon, but he clearly had a hard time diagnosing some of the blitzing and coverage schemes Louisville coordinator Todd Grantham chucked at him. Francois' final numbers were bad, but they didn't tell the entire story of how overmatched his offense looked. Saturday marks Francois' chance to get off the mat and do better.