Two teams going in opposite directions will square off at 8 PM Saturday inside the JMA Wireless Dome. You already know about Syracuse’s struggles. Things are not looking good for the Orange after three consecutive defeats. As for Florida State, well quite the opposite. After a few down years, the Seminoles appear to have gotten back on the right track in 2022.
To fully grasp what has happened to the Seminoles, let’s flashback to September 2, 2017. Then 3rd-ranked FSU was battling top-ranked Alabama in Atlanta. In the fourth quarter, Seminoles starting QB Deondre Francois left the game with a left knee injury. Later that week he was ruled out for the season. That was merely the first domino to fall. Florida State finished that year 7-6, its worst finish since 2009. Then-Head Coach Jimbo Fisher proceeded to jump ship for Texas A&M. In eight seasons under Fisher, the Seminoles won a national championship (before the CFP) and qualified for the Playoff in 2014. Fisher’s departure seemingly marked the end of an era as FSU went on to endure four straight seasons without finishing above .500.
But the winds of change have been in full force in 2022. With the exception of losses to Wake Forest, NC State, and Clemson in succession (arguably the three best teams in the ACC), the Seminoles have been rocking and rolling, not losing a game outside of that. That has them ranked entering this weekend’s showdown with SU, something the latter cannot claim.
HEAD COACH MIKE NORVELL
Norvell’s tenure got off to a rocky start with a 3-6 2020 and a 5-7 2021 that featured a loss to FCS Jacksonville State. But is this year the turning point for the former Memphis signal-caller? Sure, expecting Norvell to have the same level of success as Fisher is a little extreme, but 6-3 is not too shabby. The hype around the Seminoles feels legit for the first time in a while, and Norvell plays no small part in that. Oh yeah, he’s also won both his showdowns with Dino Babers (but he hasn’t visited Central New York yet).
QB JORDAN TRAVIS
Travis’ name will ring familiar to many SU fans, though the memories likely won’t be fond ones. In last season’s down-to-the-wire meeting between the two teams, the former Louisville transfer ran for north of 100 yards, 25 of which came on a 3rd-and-7 that set up a chip shot field goal for an FSU victory. Travis has one century-mark rushing game under his belt in 2022, but has also been solid as a passer. The West Palm Beach, FL native has topped 250 yards through the air while registering an impressive 17-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Not too shabby.
WR JOHNNY WILSON
If Travis goes off against Syracuse again, Wilson could play a big role in that. The Arizona State transfer has provided stability at the WR position for the Seminoles, tallying a pair of 100-yard receiving games along with 4 scores. His 625 receiving yards come close to doubling number 2 on the FSU roster. Pitt wideout Jared Wayne put up 6 catches for 102 yards against the Orange last weekend. Wilson provides just as much if not more of a challenge as Wayne did.
DB JAMMIE ROBINSON
Robinson has been all over the place for the Florida State D, and we mean that in a good way. The Cordele, Georgia native had 13 tackles in a game earlier this season. As a defensive back. Robinson also has an interception, and has had an increased backfield presence lately with 2.5 tackels for loss in his last two games. That does not bode well for an SU offensive line that has frankly appeared lost over the past few weeks.
DE JARED VERSE
On the topic of bad offensive line play, Syracuse can’t be looking forward to dealing with Verse. The Dayton, Ohio native leads the ACC in tackles for loss and is sixth in sacks. It was no secret how bad the offensive line was against Pitt.
Now you’re telling us the Orange have to deal with one of the best edge-rushers in the ACC? Cue the Jaws music.
SU fans are not in good spirits right now. That being said, the fact that this is a night game on Senior Day should amplify the crowd quite a bit. Babers preaches the importance of the 12th man a lot in the presser. Syracuse will need their fans to be loud and proud to make a victory over Florida State attainable.