clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ACC Championship Game Day: Louisville vs. Florida State

Go Cards.

2023 ACC Championship - Louisville v Florida State Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

No. 14 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (10-2, 7-1) vs. No. 4 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (12-0, 8-0)

ACC Championship Game

Game Time: 8 p.m.

Location: Bank of America Stadium: Charlotte, N.C.

Television: ABC

Announcers: Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Jesse Pamer (analyst) and Katie George (sideline reporter)

Favorite: Florida State by 1.5

Series History: Florida State leads, 17-6

Last Meeting: Florida State won 35-31 on Sept. 16, 2022 in Louisville

Series History:

Statistics:

Louisville Depth Chart:

Louisville Uniforms:

Game Day Guide:

Motivational Tweets:

Relevant Videos:

Excitement Level: 9.6

First conference championship game ever. Shot at a first conference championship in over a decade. Undefeated, top five opponent who is one win away from the CFP, and who also happens to be one of the bigger brands in college football. Last game before bowl season. All eyes on us.

This one checks a lot of boxes.

Game Attire: Red script Louisville hoodie

It’s 3-0 on the season.

Pregame Meal: Chicken wings

It’s been the night game meal of choice so far this season, and it’s worked.

Bold Prediction: Brock Travelstead and Nick Lopez both make field goals

Length and accuracy come together in one glorious union of special teams prowess.

Jeff Brohm Tick Play Alert Level: Extra Deep Rose (off the charts)

Brohm talked late this week about “playing loose” in this game.

Yeah, he’s diving into the bag of tricks in this one for sure.

Predicted Star of the Game: Jawhar Jordan

Jaws hasn’t gone over the century mark since the last game of October, but knowing that he has a month to rest after this one gives him the mental boost necessary to let loose and give a vintage Jawhar Jordan performance.

About Florida State:

via Keith Wynne

OFFENSE

Mike Norvell is known as one of the best offensive minds in college football and he has earned that moniker this season. Norvell deploys an arsenal of screens, misdirection, and deep throws in his passing attack that he balances with a power-running game. With the talent he has amassed for the Seminoles, he makes it hard to key on just one player. UofL will have its hands full trying to keep up with all of the threats.

Jordan Travis was lost for the season a few weeks ago but UofL fans are familiar with Tate Rodemaker the veteran backup who stepped in to be the starter. Rodemaker came into the game against FSU last year around halftime and led the Noles to a comeback win. While he wasn’t dazzling in his play, he was efficient and accurate. He has shown in his limited time on the field that he has the poise and decision-making ability needed to play quarterback at a high level.

A few times this year I’ve stated that the opposing running back or wide receiver is the best that Louisville will face this year. You can throw those statements out the window. Trey Benson is the best running back Louisville will face before the bowl game. Benson is the complete package as a running back and he has only improved from the guy that the Cards saw last season. He mixes great speed with unbelievable power and tackle-breaking ability. But he also expanded his role as a pass catcher out of the backfield. UofL is in for a long day if they continue to struggle with tackling.

Lawrance Toafili is back as the second-string running back for the Noles. He has broken some big runs this season and he has also been a target on a good amount of screen plays as well. Toafili also runs very hard and breaks tackles in the open field. He doesn’t make people miss in tight spaces like Benson does but he is nimble in the open field and he can run around guys to extend chunk runs into explosive runs.

One of the best receivers in the country lines up outside for FSU in Keon Coleman. Coleman became a household name in the first game of the season when he put up 3 touchdowns against LSU. Since then, he has continued to pile up touchdowns as well as highlight catches on the way to being a Biletnikoff semifinalist. There is no real defense for Coleman as he will do everything from quick screens, stop routes, deep crosses, and go routes. He will also make plays after the catch with really good agility in the open field to go with good speed. At this point, I think he will be a top-15 pick in the draft in a few months.

Louisville fans are also familiar with Johnny Wilson after he had a breakout game against the Cards last season. Wilson is a huge target at 6-7/237 and he has enough speed to make big plays but he is at his best when he is being used for contested catches on third downs where his size and physicality can take over. Wilson has had problems with drops during his career but as we saw last year, he can take over a game in the right situation.

The Cards haven’t had to worry about too many tight ends this season but that won’t be the case this weekend. Jaheim Bell is a big-time talent and Norvell uses him in some of the most unique ways I’ve ever seen. Bell is at his best with the ball in his hands and the Noles like to use him on tight end sweeps and screens. He will also do the traditional things like seam routes and choice/option routes in the middle of the field. But, the quirky things they do with him to get him into space against defensive backs are what most concern you for a defense. He can really cause issues with his athleticism.

While I think Miami’s offense line was the best on UofL’s schedule, FSU isn’t far behind. What used to be the laughing stock of the country has been transformed by Alex Atkins over the last couple of years. The Noles have a veteran group of players that have spent a lot of time playing together and they have been molded by the fire of keeping Jordan Travis upright while he runs around making plays. I think they are at their best when they play bully ball and just take it to defenses in the run game. UK had success doing so in the second half last weekend so it is something of a worry that FSU will try to do the same.

DEFENSE

Florida State comes into the ACC Championship with one of the best defenses in the country. The Noles have a top-15 scoring defense and they are ranked in the top-15 in yards per play. After giving up 12 points to Florida in the first half last weekend, they essentially shut down their offense and only allowed 48 yards in the second half. Louisville hasn’t struggled to score this year but they have ebbs and flows throughout games and they have been shut out in a half multiple times this season.

As with all good defenses, the defensive line has to be good and FSU is very good up front. Jared Verse returned this year even though he was viewed as a high draft pick. Verse’s numbers have dipped a bit but as he showed against Florida, he can take over a game. Verse had 3 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks to go along with a forced fumble. UofL will have to have a plan because he is not their only pass rusher.

Patrick Payton lines up on the other side of Verse and he actually leads the team in tackles for loss on the year. Payton is 6-5/239 and he is a very long athlete. I’ve been impressed with his motor this year but he has stepped up his production from an impact play standpoint as the year has gone on. He can get around the edge well but I think he also has a solid ability to rush inside and use his strength to fight off blockers.

The interior of the defensive line isn’t as talented as it has been in recent years but FSU has a very good player in Braden Fiske. The transfer from Western Michigan was coveted in the portal and he has shown why. He is a boulder in the middle and he is another player that has flashed an ability to make impact plays like sacks and tackles for loss. Fiske doesn’t make the plays that Joshua Farmer does next to him but he eats up blockers and makes it hard to run the ball. They make a good duo that will be another test for the Cards’ interior line.

Linebacker is the strength of the defense after being a weakness for quite a while. The development of this group has been very noticeable and Kalen Deloach is probably the best example. The senior is set to have career highs in just about every statistic and he has become a player that consistently makes big plays when they’re needed. He and Tatum Bethune know this defense backwards and forwards and I think the most impressive part of their game is how they fill against the run. Bethune delivers a lot of big hits in running lanes. They may have too many moments where they miss their gaps but when they’re where they should be they are very good.

FSU leads the country in passes broken up and they’ve done so in a variety of ways. Payton has 9 PBUs which are batted passes at the line but the FSU starting corners have combined for 18 PBUs on their own. Renardo Green has been excellent this season with 10 PBUs and an interception. Fentrell Cypress was a top transfer addition and though he hasn’t had the impact many expected, he is still a very good corner who fits well in their aggressive scheme.

FSU has one glaring issue on defense and it’s big plays. Cypress has been beaten on some big passing plays though he has only given up one touchdown. FSU is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to giving up big plays and a lot of it comes down to tackling. Kevin Knowles has been one of the worst on the defense but the FSU starters in the secondary have been about as good as you could ask for. Their depth is an area where UofL may be able to exploit some things.

Jarion Jones has been a star for the FSU secondary at his nickel spot. He leads the team in interceptions and he also has 5 TFLs, a sack, and a forced fumble on the year. Akeem Dent has also been very good at safety and the Noles use him as a bit of a weapon as he will do everything from covering the slot to blitzing off the edge and in the interior. This defense relies on veterans who have been in the system for a few years now. But what I’ve really noticed is that defensive coordinator Adam Fuller is being much more creative now that he has more talent and depth. Reminds me a bit of Bryan Brown last season. He’s letting loose a bit.

Notable:

—Louisville is making its first appearance in a conference championship game of any sort, and will be looking for its first league title since joining the ACC in 2014. The Cardinals have won eight conference championships in their history, the most recent coming in 2012.

—Florida State is making its sixth ACC Championship Game appearance and first since 2014. The Seminoles are 4-1 all-time in the conference title game and have won three ACC Championship Game appearances in a row. Florida State’s wins and appearances are both the 2nd-highest totals in the ACC since the championship game debuted in 2005.

—The 2023 ACC Football Championship Game is the first under the ACC’s new scheduling model, which includes eliminating divisions with the top two teams based on the highest winning percentage in regular-season conference play participating in the championship game.

—Jeff Brohm is the first coach in NCAA history to take two different teams to power conference title games in back-to-back seasons. He took Purdue to the Big Ten title game last season, where they fell to Michigan.

—Brohm is also is the first coach to win 10 or more games in his first season at Louisville.

—Florida State is on an 18-game winning streak dating back to last year, the third-longest active streak in the country. The winning streak is also the second-longest in program history and third-longest in ACC history.

—FSU is also on an 11-game conference winning streak, the fifth-longest in the nation, have won nine straight at home, also the fifth-best streak in the nation, and won seven straight on the road, tied for the fifth-longest in the nation.

—During its 18-game winning streak, Florida State has outscored its opponents 718-310.

—Louisville and Florida State are the only two teams in the FBS with seven wins over bowl eligible opponents.

—Florida State has held every opponent it has faced this season to fewer than 30 points. The 12-game streak is the longest active in the ACC and the 3rd-longest active streak in the country.

—Louisville is 4-5 against Florida State since joining the ACC in 2014. The two teams have never met on a neutral field before.

—Louisville is 28-37-1 all-time versus teams from the state of Florida, but have won six of their last seven.

—Florida State is 12-0 for the fourth time in program history, joining the 1999, 2013 and 2014 teams, and completed a perfect regular season for the seventh time. FSU is one of five remaining undefeated FBS teams in 2023.

—The Seminoles are No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll. It is the 13th consecutive week FSU has been ranked in the top-5, the program’s longest streak since 2013-14 when Florida State was in the top-5 for 27 consecutive polls.

—FSU is one of only five remaining undefeated teams in all of FBS. In the history of the College Football Playoffs, no undefeated Power 5 team has been left out of the playoff, including 6-0 Ohio State in 2020.

—Florida State is the only team in the FBS that has forced more incomplete passes than they’ve allowed pass completions this season.

—There hasn’t been an upset in the ACC Championship Game since 2011, when Clemson beat Virginia Tech as a 7-point ‘dog. Favorites have won 11 straight, covering each of the last six years.

—Louisville has won 10 games in a season for just the seventh time in program history. A win over Florida State would guarantee the Cardinals of just their sixth season with at least 11 wins.

—Louisville is 5-1 this season in games decided by one touchdown or less. The Cardinals are one of 11 teams in all of FBS with five or more wins by one touchdown or less on the year.

—The five one possession wins for Louisville are its most in a season since 2015.

—Louisville is a 1.5-point underdog in this game, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. It’s the third time this season the Cards haven’t been favored to win. U of L is 2-0 so far this season as an underdog.

—Injured Florida State QB Jordan Travis, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, began his career at Louisville.

—Louisville CB Jarvis Brownlee, who has also been injured, played the last three seasons at Florida State before transferring to U of L before last season.

—FSU cornerback Greedy Vance played two seasons at Louisville in 2020-21.

—Florida State has a total of 15 ACC Championships since joining the conference in 1992, which is the most in the ACC, followed by Clemson’s eight titles. The Seminoles will be trying to win their first ACC Championship since 2014.

—In eight games vs. top 10 teams as a Power Five head coach, Jeff Brohm has won four of them outright, including three games in which his team was at least a touchdown underdog.

—As a head coach, Jeff Brohm has been the underdog in a game immediately following a loss 11 times. His teams are 11-0 against the spread and 8-3 straight up in those 11 games.

—Louisville is 44-38 all-time in ACC games.

—Florida State leads the ACC and ranks in the top 15 in both scoring offense and scoring defense — offense (10th, 38.8 ppg) and defense (11th, 16.8 ppg).

—Louisville is 11-16 all-time in games on the ABC Network, and 2-1 this season (Notre Dame, Miami and Kentucky).

—Louisville has held each of its last 15 opponents scoreless on their first offensive drive of the game. The Cards have scored on their opening drive nine times in that span, eight times with a touchdown.

—Louisville ranks in the top 26 nationally in both total defense and total offense, in the top 35 in both scoring defense and scoring offense, and ranks in the top 35 in both rushing defense and rushing offense.

—FSU WR coach Ron Dugans was in the same position for the Cardinals from 2010-13 under former head coach Charlie Strong.

—Louisville RB Jawhar Jordan became the school’s 23rd 1,000-yard rusher when he eclipsed the mark during the team’s win over Miami two weeks ago.

—Florida State head coach Mike Norvell is 1-2 in games against Louisville.

—Louisville head coach Jeff Brohm will be facing Florida State for the first time.

—Not including the 2020 game, which had limited attendance due to the pandemic, ACC Football Championship Games played at Bank of America Stadium have had an average attendance of nearly 70,000 fans. The game’s attendance record is 74,514 for the 2015 contest between Clemson and North Carolina, which also set an attendance record for Bank of America Stadium at the time.

—Of Florida State’s 22 starters, 11 are transfers. Of Louisville’s seven All-ACC players, five are transfers.

—Florida State’s offense leads the ACC in fewest turnovers (5, 1st nationally), fewest interceptions thrown (2, 2nd), turnover margin per game (+0.92), touchdowns scored (60, 9th), passing efficiency (155.64, 21st), yards per completion (13.71, 21st) and red zone offense (89.8%, 26th).

—FSU leads the ACC and ranks 3rd in the country with a kickoff return average of 27.08 yards, and their net punting average of 43.54 yards per punt is 4th nationally.

—The Seminoles rank 5th nationally in 3rd-down defense (28.5%) and pass efficiency defense (100.32) and are 7th in the country in sacks per game (3.17).

—Louisville has outscored its opponents 90-21 in the first quarter so far this season. Pitt and Miami are the only two Cardinal opponents to score in the opening frame.

—Louisville is 19-1 over the past five seasons when shutting out its opponent in the first quarter.

—Florida State has produced a stretch where it has outscored its opponent by at least 17 points in every game this season – the only team in the CFP top-10 to do so.

—Louisville has held six of its last eight opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

—Louisville has won 32 of its last 34 games when holding teams to less than 300 yards of offense. Its only losses in said situation have come this year against Kentucky and Pittsburgh.

—Florida State’s defense has faced 59 plays inside their 10-yard line this season and allowed just 15 touchdowns. In the 45-24 win over No. 5 LSU, the Seminoles faced 10 snaps inside their own 5-yard line and allowed only two scores. On LSU’s first drive of the game, the Tigers had six plays inside the five-yard line, including four snaps from the 1-yard line, and the FSU defense forced a turnover on downs with a 13-yard sack on 4th-and-1.

—FSU has four wins this season in games in which it trailed by 10 points or more. That’s tied for the most in the country.

—Florida State is 156-29 all-time when ranked in the top 5, with an 11-0 mark this season.

—Louisville has faced a top five Florida State team five times, and is 2-3 in those games.

—Louisville’s last win over a top five opponent came over second-ranked Florida State in 2016. The Cards have lost five straight games against top five opponents since then.

—Jeff Brohm is 3-4 as a head coach in games against top five opponents.

—Louisville is 20-63-1 all-time against ranked opponents, but 2-0 this season.

—Florida State is currently allowing opponents to complete just 47.6 percent of their passes, the lowest percentage in the country. The last time a team held its opponents below 48.0 percent completions in a season is 2016.

—The Louisville passing offense ranks 19th nationally in completion percentage at 66.7 percent, which is the highest percentage since 2013 when Teddy Bridgewater helped the Cards complete 70.8 percent of their passes.

—Louisville is 84-30 all-time and 5-2 this season when playing as a team ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.

—Louisville is 10-14 all-time and 2-0 this season in games where both teams are nationally ranked.

—Louisville has won 14 straight games when holding its opponent scoreless in the first half.

—Louisville has won the coin toss in 10 of its 12 games so far this season. The Cardinals have deferred and gotten a defensive stop after all 10 coin toss victories.

—Since 2019, Louisville is 26-4 when winning the turnover battle, and just 4-20 when losing it. The Cardinals have lost the turnover battle three times this season, and two of those times resulted in their only losses of the season.

—Louisville is currently riding a consecutive game scoring streak that spans 299 games dating back to a 31-0 loss to Florida State during the 2000 season. The streak ranks as the second longest in the ACC behind only Virginia Tech, and the 10th-longest nationally.

—Louisville is 201-14 all-time when scoring 35 or more points in a game. The Cards are also 6-121 all-time when allowing opponents to score 40 or more points.

Quotable:

—“Without question, it’s a huge football game for us. We’re now in the national spotlight against an undefeated opponent, that has a great chance of making the playoff. For us, we’ve got to prove our value. We’ve got to go out there and you’ll make us a competitive game, give it our best shot, come ready to play, prove that we’re a capable team, and do it for four quarters. Anything can happen if you come prepared, and you play your best for four quarters. That’s what we want to try to do.” —Jeff Brohm

—“We’ve seen the highs, we’ve seen the lows, and that’s when you get to postseason championship games that’s what’s going to show up. The best of the best. You’ve got to play to all the potential that you have and just stay true to who we are. I think that that prepares you as much as anything to go and be able to perform in the moment.” —Florida State head coach Mike Norvell

—“I kept the receipts. My first interview, I said I’m going to Louisville so I can win the ACC. You all can pull it up. It’s there.” —Cam’Ron Kelly

—“It would mean a lot, especially for the team, knowing all we’ve been through and bringing coach (Mike Norvell) here. It would mean a lot to get the ball back rolling for the fans and for the organization.” —Florida State safety Akeem Dent

—“I’m glad it didn’t come down to a tiebreaker or any of those things. I think when you see two teams that have earned the opportunity to play in this championship. Louisville has played at an elite level throughout this year. You’ve got a great offense, a great defense, and impactful special teams.” —Florida State head coach Mike Norvell

—“It worked for us because we all bought in. Coach Brohm, everybody on the staff, they made it easy for us. They put the best players out there, and we’re all feeding off each other. We have a special team here.” —Cam’Ron Kelly

—“It worked out for us because nobody here has any type of ego. If you think you’re a starter, prove you’re a starter. But our coach also says, ‘We need the twos to travel, too.’ Everybody has one goal, and we keep preaching it.” —Quincy Riley

—It’s going to be one heck of a matchup. Got all the respect in the world for Louisville and who they are. You see the playmakers that they have. You see the coaching staff and the schemes. This is a very complete football team — offense, defense, special teams. They’re going to challenge. They’ve got explosive players. It’s going to be a heck of a game. And we’re excited for the opportunity.” —Florida State head coach Mike Norvell

—“We didn’t make it all this way just to get to the game. We want to go win. So, that’s what we’re going to do.” —Bryan Hudson

Card Chronicle Prediction: Louisville 27, Florida State 24

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.