Florida State and LSU are set to clash for the first time since 1991 on Sunday night as the two traditional powerhouses get the national spotlight all to themselves to help ring in the 2022 season. Both schools have national championships in the past decade (LSU in 2019, Florida State in 2013), but both are coming off losing seasons and needing the jolt that a Week 1 victory over a name-brand opponent can provide.
Florida State coach Mike Norvell enters his third season with an 8-13 record, while LSU coach Brian Kelly is beginning his tenure in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after 12 seasons at Notre Dame. Though the teams haven’t met in over three decades, the coaches should be familiar with each other from a memorable game played on the opening weekend of last season
Kelly’s Notre Dame squad outlasted the Seminoles 41-38 in an overtime thriller — also played on Sunday — to open the 2021 campaign. While Florida State’s competitiveness in that game against a Fighting Irish squad coming off a College Football Playoff appearance seemed like a good sign, the Seminoles followed up with a stunning loss to Jacksonville State the following week and failed to reach a bowl game. Kelly’s Notre Dame team finished 11-1, and Kelly left before the Fiesta Bowl to take over an LSU program in need of a reboot.
Let’s preview the matchup and make picks for the Sunday showdown between the Seminoles and Tigers.
LSU vs. Florida State: Need to know
LSU’s quarterback mystery: Kelly made it clear this week that he knows who will start at quarterback but he does not want Florida State to know whether it will be Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels or former four-star prospect Garrett Nussmeier. Daniels started for three seasons at Arizona State before transferring to LSU after Kelly’s hiring. Nussmeier appeared in four games as a true freshman for the Tigers last season. Kelly’s track record of playing more than one quarterback over the course of a season suggests that both could get a chance to play early in the season. “We’ve made a decision but I’m not gonna announce it publicly. I think it’s a tactical advantage for us not to announce it,” Kelly said. “Florida State played a game, that’s an advantage for them, having the opportunity to play. The advantage for us is we haven’t played, so it doesn’t help us to give up any of our cards in that sense. We’re gonna hold onto that card until game day.”
FSU’s game of experience: Florida State didn’t have to reveal many of its schematic intricacies in a 47-7 win over Duquense last week, but the Seminoles at least gave the Tigers some film to watch. So what did they show? For one, FSU’s ability to run the football stood out. After posting a respectable 177.8 yards per game on the ground last season, the Seminoles bid farewell to leading rusher Jashaun Corbin. But with three running backs going over 100 yards against Duquesne, it looked like the Seminoles’ run game could be a strength in 2022. Treshaun Ward and Lawrence Toafili each hit the century-mark after playing reserve roles last season, and Oregon transfer Trey Benson joined them as FSU totaled 406 yards on the ground.
LSU’s running back situation: Former five-star running back prospect John Emery Jr. could finally be in line for a showcase role in the LSU offense this season after playing behind stars such as Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ty Davis-Price in 2019 and 2020 before missing all of last season due to an academic suspension. While Emery should still be in for a big season, he is suspended for the first two games. So that likely leaves Penn State transfer Noah Cain in the spotlight at running back along with sophomore Armoni Goodwin against the Seminoles. Cain ran for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns on 193 carries in three seasons at Penn State, while Goodwin carried 16 times for 65 yards as a freshman for LSU in 2021.
How to watch LSU vs. Florida State live
Date: Sunday, Sept. 4 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Caesars Superdome — New Orleans, Louisiana
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
LSU vs. Florida State prediction, pick
Featured Game | LSU Tigers vs. Florida State Seminoles
LSU looks more talented at most position groups, but the Tigers need time to gel. Given that Florida State got a Week 0 tune-up and has continuity in Year 3 under Norvell, the Seminoles should have the advantage in terms of comfort and fluidity. Though LSU will have an advantage in fan representation, playing in the Superdome won’t be nearly as intimidating for the Seminoles as playing a night game at Tiger Stadium. Prediction: Florida State (+3)
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