Remember after the LSU game, when Syracuse University football fans were wondering what might have happened if the Tigers hadn’t had Leonard Fournette? Well, it looks like we’re basically going to get to find out on Saturday, as Florida State will be without its very own version of Fournette, Dalvin Cook, when the Orange invade Tallahassee.
Florida State and LSU aren’t exactly the same team, of course, and LSU is actually probably a better all-around squad, but they’re very similar in each team’s reliance on their star running back. Cook is sixth in the nation in rushing yards with 1,037, and averages a staggering 8.2 yards-per-carry. He’s also rushed for 11 touchdowns on 127 carries – or in other words, basically one touchdown for every 11 touches.
In other words, this is a massive blow for the Seminoles, who are pretty well banged up across the board and may try to err on the side of caution on Saturday with a showdown against No. 3-ranked Clemson looming next weekend. Everett Golson, the team’s starting quarterback and a transfer from Notre Dame, is one of those banged up players and may wind up being limited on Saturday, if he plays at all (he’s currently expected to start but was splitting reps with the first team in practice today).
To make matters worse for FSU, the team’s backup running back, Mario Pender (140 yards, one touchdown) is also out, meaning that the Seminoles will go with true freshman Jacques Patrick. Patrick was a highly coveted recruit last year – ranking No. 49 overall in ESPN’s rankings last season – but has only six carries for 12 years so far this season. He’s a big, bruising back at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, and he’s obviously a talented player but it certainly won’t be the same as facing Cook.
The Seminoles lost to Georgia Tech last week, which is less than ideal since I’d rather not be facing a pissed off FSU team on their home field, but the rash of injuries for the bad guys can only help to even the playing field a little bit. This game may wind up being pretty darned interesting after all.
Full disclosure: had FSU not lost to Georgia Tech, I would have been very tempted to flirt with an upset pick, because I’ve come away less than impressed with the ‘Noles this season. Which, of course, is probably why they wound up losing to the Ramblin’ Wreck. The 6-1 Seminoles did beat USF 34-14, but even in wins against BC, Wake Forest, and Miami – three programs who are struggling big time – they looked a bit underwhelming.
It was always going to take an awful lot to break right for Syracuse to pull off this upset, which would still be a pretty big time shock as the Orange come off of four straight losses. But with several key injuries, including the one to Cook, well, maybe things are starting to break for the Orange after all. Can’t wait to get to Saturday to see how Syracuse responds.