Syracuse, Florida State looking to snap losing streaks
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — One streak should thankfully come to an end for Syracuse or Florida State on Saturday.
The Orange (4-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) are winless on the road this season and have lost five straight dating back to last season. The Seminoles (2-5, 2-4) have lost their first three home games for the first time in 43 years and are 3-5 at Doak Campbell Stadium. Before the recent losses, the Seminoles had won 22 in a row at home.
Syracuse, which had its bye last week, enters the game with momentum. It defeated sixth-ranked Clemson on Oct. 13 and was within one point at No. 9 Miami in the fourth quarter before losing 27-19.
In its three road games this season, Syracuse has lost by an average of 8.3 points. None have been in double digits and all have been to teams that are currently ranked.
A win would mark the first time since 2010 that an ACC team has defeated Clemson and Florida State in the same season. It would also surpass the Orange’s win total from last year and put them on the verge of qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 2013.
“We know that we’re a good team. We know that we can compete with any team,” receiver Steve Ishmael said. The loss at Miami “was most definitely a reminder that we’re a good team. It gave us confidence going into this game.”
Florida State has lost two straight and is trying to bounce back from a 35-3 drubbing last week at Boston College. The loss also marked the first time since 2008 FSU failed to score a touchdown in a game.
The Seminoles — who play at Clemson next week — also desperately need a win in order to keep their 36-year streak of making a bowl game afloat.
“Our execution in key moments has to be better. We have to understand how to relax and make the play at that moment,” coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Some other things to know about Saturday’s Syracuse-Florida matchup:
FLOUNDERING OFFENSE: With true freshmen starting at quarterback (James Blackman) and running back (Cam Akers) and its top two receivers hampered by injuries, Florida State has struggled on offense. The Seminoles have scored 28 points or more just once. If they are going to be more consistent on offense, Blackman has to play better. He has seven interceptions and five touchdowns in the past four games while the offense has had red zone turnovers two straight weeks.
NEEDING TO BOUNCE BACK: FSU cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, an AP Preseason All-America team selection, has struggled. After having eight interceptions last season, McFadden has none and likely has lost his job at punt returner after his second fumble last week. The Seminoles have the 15th-worst punt return average in the nation (3.4 yards) and are one of four ACC teams without a return of 10 yards or more.
DOMINANT DUNGEY: Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is sixth nationally in completions per game (25.1) and seventh in total offense (337.9). He is also one of three quarterbacks in the conference to also lead his team in rushing.
FROM PUSHOVER TO PUSHER: Syracuse has allowed 24.6 points per game this season, good for 52nd nationally. A year ago, teams averaged 38.6 points against the Orange. That’s the fifth-best improvement in scoring defense in the nation. The Orange have forced opponents to punt after three downs nearly 40 percent of the time. “We’ve got a really good foundation for a good defense that’s going to be around here for a long, long time,” Babers said.
STILL KICKING: After a dismal junior season, Syracuse placekicker Cole Murphy is on a roll. He tied his career high with four field goals against Miami and needs just three field goals to eclipse John Biskup’s school record of 57. Murphy is 16 of 18 this season, a nice turnaround from last year when he finished 10 of 18.
AP Sports Writer John Kekis in Syracuse, New York, contributed to this report.
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