Florida State vs. LSU, Battle in the Bayou

September is the time of teams establishing their reputation, and two teams that are looking to improve upon theirs from last year are the Florida State Seminoles and the LSU Tigers. Florida State won their last championship in 2013, and LSU won theirs in 2019, so neither program is far removed from being atop the FBS. Each team is attempting to climb their way up the bowl hierarchy so they can play more games in front of faithful fanatics, and grabbing wins early is a crucial step towards making a run back to glory.

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History Between Florida State and LSU

While these two teams have been going at it since 1968, they have only met nine times with the Seminoles defeating the Tigers on seven of those occasions. Florida State currently holds a four-game winning streak over LSU dating back to 1983. Most wins have been in decisive fashion, as the winner of the matchup has won by double digits in six out of the nine games played. The Seminoles’ largest win came in 1990 in a 42-3 blowout, and the Tigers won by their largest margin in 1982, their last win against FSU, by a score of 55-21.

This game features two of the most successful programs in college football history. Florida State holds three national championships (19th in the FBS), and LSU has four (16th in the FBS). LSU played in the Taxact Texas Bowl last season, while FSU missed out, but both squads are in the top 15 all time for bowl games played (Tigers in sixth with 62, Seminoles in 13th with 47). While having an abundance of talent leads to wins on the football field, it also leads to plenty of draft picks. FSU has bred 46 first-rounders (10th in the FBS), while LSU has had 49 of them (eighth in the FBS).

While these teams haven’t faced each other in over 30 years, there was plenty of bad blood the last time they both took the field. Florida State’s 42-3 victory was a historic win, as it marked head coach Bobby Bowden’s 200th career win. However, fists were flying and players were being pushed everywhere after Seminole linebacker Kirk Carruthers laid a late hit on Tiger backup quarterback Jesse Daigle.

Personnel on both sides has changed vastly since that day at Doak Campbell Stadium, but the brawl is still one that can be remembered across all leagues as a culmination of extracurricular violence during Bowden’s 200th win. Now, both sides will go toe-to-toe in the same stadium where bad blood was shed 32 years prior.

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The Glory Days

LSU fans don’t have to go back more than a couple years to reminisce about what some may view as the best team in college football history. In 2019, the likes of Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and more led the Tigers to a perfect regular season. LSU battered Georgia 37-10 in the SEC Championship and throttled Oklahoma 63-28 in the Peach Bowl before defeating Clemson 42-25 to win their first national championship since 2007. While LSU has changed most of its personnel since then, fans can still boast officially licensed sports apparel celebrating a championship from a recent year.

Florida State fans have to look back a little further, but it still hasn’t been a full decade since the Seminoles put together their own perfect season in 2013. Led by Jameis Winston, Devonta Freeman, and Kelvin Benjamin, Coach Jimbo Fisher’s squad went 12-0 in the regular season while winning every contest by at least 14 points. The team then beat down Duke 45-7 in the ACC Championship before taking out Auburn 34-31 to claim the program’s first national championship since 1999.

While both programs are trying to ascend back to their championship form, fanatics still have sports collectibles from relatively recent years to celebrate their teams’ impressive runs.

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2021 Storylines

Florida State finished the 2021 season with a 5-7 record, just narrowly missing out on bowl eligibility, after starting the year 0-4 and finishing it on a 5-3 run. Mike Norvell’s team won key ACC contests against Miami, Syracuse, and North Carolina by a combined margin of 16 points. The Seminoles dropped key conference games against Wake Forest, Louisville, and NC State while finishing an even 4-4 (fourth in the ACC) against conference opponents.

Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton alternated at quarterback throughout the season, but Travis had more success with 15 touchdowns and six picks to Milton’s three touchdowns and six picks. Jashuan Corbin led the charge out of the backfield with 887 yards on the ground and 6.2 yards per carry with seven scores. Ontaria Wilson led all receivers in the garnet and gold with 382 yards and five trips to the end zone. Jermaine Johnson came off the edge as one of the better pass-rushers in the ACC with 12 sacks during his last year at Florida State.

LSU put up a 6-6 record and claimed bowl eligibility, allowing their fanatics to grab some bowl memorabilia, after winning their last two contests of the season against UL Monroe and a ranked Texas A&M squad. The Tigers finished with a 3-5 record against the SEC (sixth in the SEC West) and went 2-5 against ranked opponents in 2021. Wins against Florida and Mississippi State were huge in helping LSU reach bowl eligibility, but close losses against Arkansas, Auburn, and Alabama prevented the Tigers from ascending above their conference foes.

Max Johnson threw for the second most touchdowns (27) of any LSU quarterback since 2006, as Joe Burrow’s 60-score performance is the only exception. Tyrion Davis-Price went for 1,003 yards on the ground with six touchdowns to lead the purple and yellow in rushing, and Kayshon Boutte had the best year out wide with 509 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. BJ Ojulari was the most impactful pass-rusher in 2021, as he got to the quarterback seven times.

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Prominent Strengths

The Seminoles leaned heavily on their run game throughout their 2021 campaign, and their disciplined yet diversified ground attack worked very effectively. Corbin led the way in rushing, but two-way quarterback Jordan Travis, Treshaun Ward, and Lawrence Toafili all averaged at least four yards per carry on 30 or more attempts throughout the season. Florida State also had a nose for the ball on defense with 1.3 interceptions per game (tied for fifth in the FBS). Jammie Robinson will return after leading the team with four picks and 84 tackles.

LSU fans were treated to a pristine passing performance from Johnson, who posted a 144.4 rating throughout the year. While it’s tough to closely follow one of the best seasons in all of sports by Burrow in 2019, Johnson still had one of the most stellar seasons by a Tiger signal-caller in recent memory. LSU rolled the dice a ton last year, as the team went for it on fourth down on 32 occasions. However, the gambles paid off, as they converted on 20 of those times for a 62.5 percent efficiency rating.

The disciplined, monotonous style of FSU sharply contrasts the throw-heavy offense of LSU, so time of possession will be key in determining the overall tempo of this matchup.

Each Team’s Achilles Heel

The Seminoles ran the ball exceptionally well, but it’s tough to keep up in shootouts with that play style. Florida State allowed at least 30 points on five occasions last year, going 1-4 in those games, while throwing the ball less than 32 percent of the time. While Florida State had a 100-yard rusher in five contests throughout 2021, they never had a pass-catcher with over 100 yards. This team also allowed 36 points per contest in 2021 and will now go without Johnson, who had 12 sacks and was drafted by the Jets at 26th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Tigers threw the ball more frequently than the Seminoles at 43 percent, but the team didn’t have much success while running the ball. Davis-Price did eclipse the 1,000 yard milestone, but the team’s rushing attack as a whole was inadequate. LSU had 445 rushes for 1,482 yards, a mere 3.3 yards per carry average. Outside of Davis-Price, the Tigers had 234 rushes for just 479 yards and three scores on the year.

Time of possession and turnover differential, both key attributes in a multitude of sports, have been areas of struggle for both programs. The Tigers had a turnover differential of -3, while the Seminoles sat at -1. Neither team held onto the ball for the majority of the season, as LSU averaged 29:36 of possession time per game and Florida State sat at 28:20.

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Next Man Up

While the Seminoles will be missing their 2021 sacks leader, their secondary should grow in strength with the addition of their highest-rated, four-star recruit, Sam McCall. The safety out of Lake Gibson played as a defensive back and receiver in high school, as he hauled in 52 passes for 903 yards and 10 touchdowns while recording four interceptions. The Tigers are welcoming five-star recruit Harold Perkins to their lineup. The Cypress, Texas, native ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash in high school and utilized his speed out of the backfield in supplement to his pass coverage.

This Matchup’s Stakes

The Tigers are looking for their first opening week victory since 2019, while the Seminoles will be coming off of a game against Duquesne. Both programs are looking to pass the six-win mark and then some this year, but in order to get to win number six, they have to take their challenges week by week. Both teams will take the field on Sunday, Sept. 4 when they face off against each other at 7:30 PM ET on ABC.



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