FSU Football: Idaho game preview

florida state seminoles

Nick O’Leary holds the Florida State record for touchdown receptions by a tight end. (Riley Shaaber/FSView)

‘Noles host Vandals on Senior Day

Florida State wasted little time remaining perfect on Saturday as Florida State raced to a 28-0 first quarter lead en route to a 59-3 victory over Syracuse to complete a perfect ACC slate. The Seminoles will be at home on Saturday for the final time this season as they play host to Idaho on Senior Day in Tallahassee.

FSU seniors such as Jacobbi McDaniel, Bryan Stork, Demonte McAllister, Dan Hicks, Lamarcus Joyner, Christian Jones, Kenny Shaw, Terrence Brooks and Telvin Smith will walk with their parents prior to the start of Saturday’s game.

Florida State comes in ranked second in the country with a perfect 10-0 record. The Seminoles will be looking to finish perfect at home for the first time since 2000. Florida State arrived with a perfect home record on Senior Day last season, but were defeated by rival Florida, 37-26. Idaho doesn’t look to present the same challenge.

At 1-9, Idaho comes in on a five-game losing streak since collecting its only win over Temple. The Vandals are giving up the most points in the country and yielded 59 in a loss at home to Old Dominion two weeks ago.

Running back James Baker leads Idaho with six rushing touchdowns while wide receiver Dezmon Epps still has a shot at a 1,000-yard season. Epps has 66 receptions for 811 yards this season with four touchdown receptions.

While Idaho is giving up more points than anyone else in the nation this year, Florida State has scored at least 41 points in every contest and have twice eclipsed that mark in the first half. The Seminoles’ potent offense has been fueled by redshirt freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful, Jameis Winston.

Despite sexual assault allegations hanging over him, Winston completed 19 of his 21 pass attempts last week against Syracuse for 277 yards and two touchdowns in just a half of action. Winston has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards on the season and 28 touchdowns. Winston ranks in the top five in the country in passer rating, yards-per-attempt and touchdown passes.

Winston’s top target is junior wide receiver Rashad Greene. Greene has 54 grabs for 860 yards receiving on the season and leads the ACC with nine touchdown receptions. Greene needs just 140 yards to become the first Seminole to finish with more than 1,000 yards receiving in over a decade.

Tight end Nick O’Leary is also a popular target for Winston particularly in the red zone. Last week, O’Leary caught his seventh touchdown of the season, which is a Florida State single-season record for a tight end. It also ranks O’Leary second nationally among tight ends in that category behind only Marshall’s Gator Hoskins.

While the Florida State offense is scoring the second most points in the country this season, the FSU defense is giving up the third fewest. Entering Saturday, Florida State has not yielded a touchdown in 10 quarters, but has managed to score three on that side of the ball over the last two weeks.

Defensive end Chris Casher returned a fumble for a score in the victory over Syracuse last week. The week before, freshmen defensive backs Nate Andrews and Jalen Ramsey each scored defensive touchdowns against Wake Forest. On the season, the FSU defense has found the end zone six times.

Four of Florida State’s top five tacklers are seniors including linebacker Telvin Smith, who leads Florida State with 60 total tackles. Though unusual for a defensive back, senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner leads the Seminoles with five sacks.

Saturday’s meeting between Idaho and Florida State will be the first ever. Florida State will be looking to improve to 11-0 for the first time since 1999 and to finish perfect at home for the first time since 2000. The contest on Saturday will kick off after 3:30 P.M. eastern time and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

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