It’s one of the marquee matchups of the most pivotal weekend of college football thus far. The fourth-ranked Florida State Seminoles are set to take on the 15th-ranked Louisville Cardinals Saturday night in Charlotte in the 2023 ACC Championship game. The game will be televised on ABC, and kickoff is slated for 8 pm ET.
The big storyline heading into the showdown has to be the Seminoles’ recent run of bad luck with the injury bug. Losing star quarterback Jordan Travis to a season-ending broken leg was enough cause for concern. Now, experienced backup Tate Rodemaker’s health is up in the air. After taking a blow to the head late in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s win over the Florida Gators, his status is now one of a game-time decision. Rodemaker has not been a full participant in practice this week due to remaining in concussion protocol. This is a massive injury report to watch. The Seminoles are trying to clinch their first playoff berth since 2014.
The Cardinals are searching for their first ACC title since joining the league in 2014. It’s been a historic and wildly successful season for Jeff Brohm and his staff. Louisville also won 10 games in a season for the first time since 2013. The Cardinals possess a balanced offensive attack, finishing the regular season with the fifth-ranked passing and rushing offense in the conference. Overall, they were the third-ranked total offense in the ACC. The Cards were even more impressive on the defensive side of the ball. They capped off 2023 with the second-best total defense in the ACC, led by the conference’s best run defense. Momentum is not on their side, however, as they’re coming off a disappointing 38–31 upset defeat at the hands of the in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats.
Florida State, led by newly-minted ACC Coach of the Year Mike Norvell, is looking to capture its 16th ACC title since joining the league in 1992. They haven’t been crowned champions of the conference since 2014. Offensively, FSU fielded the fourth-best offense in the conference by total yardage. The Seminoles are led by a stellar passing game, which ranked second-best in the ACC. Defensively, this is a well-balanced group. The Noles finished the regular season third in the ACC in total defense, third in defending the pass, and fifth against the run.
Florida State has dominated the series historically, holding a 17-6 margin since these two teams first squared off in 1952. However, the two sides have split the last six meetings. The past two have both been decided by single digits. Last season, the Seminoles edged the Cardinals in a 35-31 thriller in Louisville.
Players to Watch
FSU QB Brock Glenn
Should Rodemaker be ruled out for the contest, true freshman Brock Glenn gets the nod for the Seminoles. Glenn has only played a handful of snaps this season. He doesn’t have near the experience under his belt that Rodemaker possesses. However, Glenn does have the upper hand in terms of mobility, as he’s more of a dual threat. He will need to rely on his legs to keep the solid Cardinals defense off-balance. This is without a doubt the most important game of the season thus far for FSU. If the 2023 ACC Championship happens to be his first career start, will the lights be too bright for the youngster? Or will he be able to handle the pressure?
FSU DL Jared Verse
Verse is coming off perhaps his best performance in the garnet and gold. His 2.5 sacks led the way for the Seminoles’ defense, which stymied the Gators’ offense and changed the momentum of the game. With Verse in such good form, it’ll be intriguing to watch how the Louisville offensive front plans around him. Cardinals quarterback Jack Plummer isn’t exactly a dual-threat and has been sacked 22 times on the season. Will the Cards double-team Verse, potentially freeing up the dangerous Patrick Payton and Braden Fiske? Or will they attempt to deal with all three separately?
Louisville RB Jawhar Jordan
Jordan has been electric for the Cardinals’ offensive system this season. Not only was he the team’s leading rusher. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark and finished the regular season second in the ACC in rushing yards. Jordan also put up an impressive 6.4 yards per carry, second in the conference for starting running backs. Should the Louisville offense struggle with the surging FSU pass rush, look for Jordan to become the primary focal point. The Seminoles have shown susceptibility in defending the run at times this year. Don’t sleep on his dynamic ability as a pass catcher, either.
The 2023 ACC Championship game has all the makings of a classic. Both programs have so much to play for. The Seminoles have to win in order to make the Playoffs, keeping their national title dreams intact. The Cardinals have a great chance to capture their first ACC title, along with an appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl.
With the Florida State offense not at full strength, this is a prime opportunity for the Louisville defense to show up and show out. Even more crucially, this is the time for the Noles’ defense to carry the load. Regardless of who gets the start at quarterback, the defense will need to play the best it has all season. The Seminoles offense just has not been the same without Jordan Travis. Look for the defensive game plan to revolve around limiting offensive possessions from the Cardinals, keeping it a low-scoring game, and being stout on third downs. With so much on the line, however, the Florida State Seminoles simply want this victory more. Flip a coin, this one could go either way.
FSU 24, Louisville 21