TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – While most college football fans are already pointing to a potential matchup of an undefeated Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes; the Noles have a tough road to get there starting Saturday with a game against a vastly improved Maryland Terrapins team.
The Noles like to run the football this year, averaging 239.5 yards per game, second best in the Atlantic Coast Conference. FSU’s trio of backs including Devonta Freeman, James Wilder, Jr. , and Karlos Williams have decimated defenses this year and opened up a deadly play-action game for quarterback Jameis Winston.
Maryland loves to stop the run. The Terps are allowing just 98.5 yards per game on the ground, 13th best in the nation and number two in the ACC. Maryland is also allowing just 10.3 yards per game to opponents in 2013.
But, Maryland hasn’t faced a team with anywhere near the firepower of Florida State. The Terps are 4-0, but have beaten Florida International, Old Dominion, Connecticut, and West Virginia. With the exception of West Virginia, the rest are not good football teams.
When Florida State gets the ball, they average roughly 6.52 yards per rushing attempt and have a team passer rating of 202.08 and have thrown 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Everything starts with “Famous” Jameis Winston.
The redshirt freshman quarterback is completing 73.6 percent of his passes this year and picking up roughly 11.5 yards per pass attempt. He’s also run the ball 29 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
The Terrapins rank No. 2 in the ACC with 17 sacks, led by linebacker Marcus Whitfield’s 5.5 sacks. The Seminoles are loaded at the skill positions, but Winston is what makes them national championship contenders. The Terps need to pressure him more than he has been so far.
“He reminds me a lot of EJ Manuel, who they had a year ago,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. “I’m just very, very impressed with his poise and his level of maturity. You can see that he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Noles head coach Jimbo Fisher believes his defense was overaggressive in the 48-34 win against Boston College. The Eagles piled up 200 yards rushing on 45 carries as the eighth-ranked Seminoles were caught out of position and missed tackles.
They can’t afford to that Saturday against No. 25 Maryland (4-0). The Terrapins run a read-option offense that emphasizes misdirection and play-action.
“We had a couple knucklehead things we did with eye control, gave up a couple big plays that were very simple,” Fisher said of the BC game. “You want to see guys make plays, but sometimes on defense you have to realize that you don’t make every play.
“A couple of our situations came from eye discipline, trying to be overaggressive and not staying with what we had to do and within the scheme. That’s Maryland’s goal, just trying to get your eyes out of whack,” Seminoles linebacker Christian Jones said.
One thing to watch for during the game is Seminoles place kicker Roberto Aguayo. The redshirt freshman kicker has all seven field goals and 26 extra points he’s attempted this year. But, he has yet to have to make a pressure-packed kick on the season.
The Noles and Terps meeting on Saturday may be the last time the teams play for a long time. Maryland joins the Big Ten next year and there are no more scheduled meetings between the two teams. Incidentally, Maryland has only beaten FSU twice and never in Doak Campbell Stadium.
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