On Saturday, eighth-ranked Florida State will be looking for a second straight 5-0 start and a seventh straight victory over Maryland as the Seminoles play host to the Terrapins at Doak Campbell Stadium. Both teams arrive for the contest with perfect 4-0 records and the game is a showdown within the ACC’s Atlantic division. Maryland, who is ranked 25th in the country, will have had two weeks to prepare for the Seminoles when the teams meet on Saturday. The Terrapins shut out West Virginia 37-0 their last time out while FSU struggled, but defeated Boston College 48-34 on Saturday.
While Florida State is looking to begin the season 5-0 for a second straight year, Maryland is looking for its first 5-0 start since 2001, the last time the Terrapins won the ACC. After winning just four games all of last season, Maryland has already equaled its win total and will be looking for a signature win. The Seminoles have not started 5-0 in back-to-back seasons since 1999 and 2000. To make it happen again, here are Saturday’s keys to Seminole success:
Early ‘Nole gets the turtle
Strong starts have been anything, but routine for Florida State early on this season and that will need to change on Saturday. Against each of Florida State’s FBS opponents, Pittsburgh, Nevada and Boston College, the Seminoles have dug themselves an early hole. Last week, Florida State faced its biggest deficit of the season trailing 17-3 to Boston College early in the second quarter. Maryland will be the toughest opponent that Florida State has seen yet and the Seminoles will need to kick the habit of falling behind early on Saturday.
Make the run no fun for Maryland
Maryland will arrive in Tallahassee ranked in the top 25 nationally in terms of running the football averaging more than 225 yards-per-game on the ground. Last week, the Seminoles gave up 200 yards rushing to Andre Williams and Boston College one week after giving up 182 yards to Bethune-Cookman on the ground. The most dangerous man in the Terrapins’ rushing attack is quarterback C.J. Brown, who is averaging better than six yards-per-carry. Maryland also likes to run the zone-read, a play that both Bethune-Cookman and Nevada had success with early on this year against the Seminoles. For Florida State to slow down the Maryland rushing attack, it will need a solid day from the defensive line and guys like tackle Timmy Jernigan as well as ends Mario Edwards Jr., Chris Casher and DeMarcus Walker.
Balance the offensive budget
Florida State has been one of the more balanced teams in the country this season and against a Maryland team that ranks third in the country in fewest points allowed, it will again need to be on Saturday. In each of Florida State’s four games this season, the Seminoles have passed for at least 200 yards and rushed for at least 150. Last week, quarterback Jameis Winston led Florida State in both passing and rushing, but look for the Seminoles to get more of their playmakers involved this week. Devonta Freeman, Florida State’s leading rusher, finished with just 49 yards rushing last week, but last season against Maryland, Freeman went for 148 yards and two scores. If Freeman and the FSU ground game can have another big day, that should really open things up for Winston and the potent aerial attack.