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Oct 17, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; FSU running back Dalvin Cook (4) tries to shake a tackler as the Florida State Seminoles beat the Louisville Cardinals 41-21 at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Louisville Hosts FSU In ACC Clash of Top 10 Teams

On a Saturday in which there are plenty of marquee matchups including ranked teams, one of the biggest games kicks the day off at noon. The No.2 ranked Florida State Seminoles travel to the Bluegrass State to take on No.10 Louisville in a game with major ACC implications.

The last time these two teams met, Louisville—unranked at the time—had a one point halftime lead in Tallahassee before the Noles rallied with five second-half touchdowns to eventually pull out the 41-21 victory.

This time around, the final score is expected to be much closer.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, a freshman in that game, is now a sophomore who’s placed himself firmly in the Heisman Trophy race. The standout from Boynton Beach, Florida has eye-popping numbers through two games, including an eight-touchdown performance against Charlotte in Week 1, and a six-touchdown, 610 yards of total-offense-performance against Syracuse in Week 2 that included this possible Heisman moment.

The Florida State defense faces the difficult task of trying to stop Jackson and the explosive Louisville offense without their top defensive player, defensive back Derwin James. The Preseason All-American suffered a left knee injury against Charleston Southern last week, and is expected to miss at least a few weeks.

Sophomore defensive back AJ Westbrook will have to fill his shoes, while more of the pressure will fall on the defensive line led by senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who had 4.5 sacks against Ole Miss.

The Noles, however, do have their own playmakers on offense. Dalvin Cook remains one of the top running backs in the country, and redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois has impressed in his first two starts. Francois threw for 419 yards in the comeback-win over Ole Miss, while throwing for three touchdowns in their trouncing of Charleston Southern last week.

Sep 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois (12) drops back to throw the ball in the second quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois (12) drops back to throw the ball in the second quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

While he has shown good composure during the first two starts of his career, Saturday presents a different test for Francois. It’ll be his first true road test, and it will be against a highly-ranked conference rival in front of what should be a raucous crowd. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher says he’s happy with how the team handled the simulated crowd noise this week in practice.

Florida State owns a 14-2 all-time record against Louisville, with Louisville’s last win over FSU coming in 2002. The winner of this game will move into at least a tie for first place in the ACC Atlantic Division.

Kickoff is set for noon.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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