IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Seminoles Pass the Cardinals; Threaten the ACC Race

Ken Cross

September 20, 2022 at 10:32 am.

The “ACC Fab Five” features the potential return of the Florida State Seminoles to threaten for the ACC crown. This is a column that takes the previous Saturday’s ACC matchups and reviews the top five games. There is no order, nor does the perspective ACC team have to win a non-conference game. If there is a loss, the team we mention must have threatened to win the game but took the ‘L’.

Florida State 35, @Louisville 31 – The Seminoles trailed the Cardinals, 21-14, in the second quarter when they lost quarterback Jordan Travis to a leg injury.

Backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker threw a pair of touchdown passes to wide receiver Jordan Wilson to give the Seminoles their win and a 3-0 start.

The 6-7, 230-pound Wilson had seven catches for 149 yards and the two scores, while Rodemaker came off the bench and completed six of 10 passes for 109 yards. He followed a hot start by Travis who had completed 13 of 17 passes for 157 yards and two TDs before he was injured four minutes before halftime.

It was another stellar performance by Cards QB Malik Cunningham as he completed 21 of 34 passes for 243 yards, while rushing for 127 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. It was the ninth time he has rushed for over 100 yards in his career.

Cunningham is now third in Louisville history for rushing touchdowns as he now has 41 and passed Michael Bush on Friday night.

“It was a fun performance for our football team,” FSU head coach Mike Norvell said. “When guys seize the moment and we tell them you never know when your number’s going to be called, but you have got to be ready.”

@Syracuse 32, Purdue 29 – The Orange slipped past the Boilermakers as quarterback Garrett Shrader hit Oronde Gadsden II with a 25-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds remaining.

Syracuse had a 10-9 lead going into the fourth quarter before the two teams traded leads four times in the final period. The Orange built a 25-15 lead on a 17-yard interception return for a score by Caleb Okechukwu with 8:08 to play.

Purdue seemingly had won the game with 51 seconds remaining when Aidan O’Connell found Payne Durham on a 12-yard TD pass as the Boilers took a 29-25 lead.

O’Connell passed for 424 yards, but Purdue was hit with 13 penalties for 138 yards and this gave the Orange the opportunity to pull this game out.

“They regrouped at halftime,” said Syracuse coach Dino Babers of his team. “They were extremely determined, extremely focused at halftime.”

@Texas A&M 17, Miami 9 – The No. 24 Aggies’ defense was on par in helping Texas A&M to down No. 13 Miami at Kyle Field on Saturday evening.

A&M held Miami out of the end zone while forcing three Andres Borregales field goals even though the Hurricanes posted 392 total yards. Miami made four trips into the red zone and couldn’t convert a touchdown.

The Hurricanes’ defense was even more stellar than the Aggies’ as Miami held them to 264 total yards.

Aggies coached Jimbo Fisher sat the beleaguered starter Haynes King as quarterback Max Johnson (LSU transfer) picked up the start.

“If you’re going to get into the red zone against a team like this in their place with as good as their defense is, you got to score touchdowns,” Miami head coach Mario Christobal said.”

@ NC State 27, Texas Tech 14 – The No. 16 Wolfpack’s win was more of a defensive battle with the Red Raiders than many expected.

NCSU’s defense held Texas Tech to 53 yards on 26 carries, while Red Raiders’ quarterbacks Donovan Smith and Behren Morton combined for 300 passing yards.

The big play of the game was turned in by NC State defensive back Aydan White as he took an interception 84 yards and the Wolfpack took a 20-0 lead late in the second quarter.

The Wolfpack has an experienced defense that picked off Red Raiders quarterbacks three times and White had a second interception as well as a sack on a blitz.

On Sunday, White was named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week.

“I don’t think we’re a one-dimensional team,” said NCSU coach David Doeren. “Texas Tech has 10 senior starters on defense, too. They were an older, veteran defense. I think you had two pretty good defenses slugging it out in that game.”

No. 23 Pitt 34, @Western Michigan 13 – The Panthers needed a rebound after last week’s overtime loss to Tennessee as running back Israel Abikanda led with 131 yards on 31 carries.

The Panthers were able to dominate the line of scrimmage as they had the ball for 38:31. On the flip side, Pitt’s defense held the Broncos to 180 yards and WMU was 2 for 11 on third downs.

Pitt stays in the conversation with Miami as the favorites in the ACC Coastal Division.

Coach Pat Narduzzi started backup quarterback Nate Yarnell in place of injured Kedon Slovis. It was the 6-6 quarterback’s first start as he completed nine of 12 passes for 179 yards and balanced the 238 yards on 52 carries from the Pitt rushing attack.

”He was cool as a cucumber,” said Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi. “He was in the hotel playing Beethoven this morning. I was like ‘Whoa, who is that?’ It was Nate Yarnell and he was acting like he had been there before.”

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