Can you believe in just 19 days we will have our first college football game of the season? Week zero games are a great preview but week one is full of premier games. A tradition of week one is spreading games out over the course of the entire weekend. Games are spread out between Thursday and Monday for the first full weekend of college football. LSU and Florida State are slated play in the evening on Sunday September 4th. The two programs have numerous intriguing storylines heading into the season which is why this matchup is number 19 in our series 99 Things.
The LSU Tigers made a splash hire this past off-season by bringing in Brian Kelly from Notre Dame. Kelly found success at Notre Dame making two College Football Playoff appearances and a BCS National Championship appearance in 2012. The Tigers are only a few years removed from a National Championship when Joe Burrow had one of the best seasons in college football history. Each of LSU’s last three head coaches have won a title meaning Kelly has lofty expectations. LSU will not win a title this year but they have talent to upset a few teams and make some noise in the SEC. Kelly helped build Notre Dame into a contender and respected program in the country. LSU has exposure to more talent than Notre Dame playing in the south which means Kelly should have improved chances at winning a national championship.
While LSU is breaking in a new coach, Florida State has a coach on the hot seat. Mike Norvell is entering his third season as the Seminoles head coach and is in desperate need of a winning season. Florida State went 5-7 last season but had a few bright spots. Quarterback Jordan Travis was 5-2 in his starts. Travis will return under center for the Seminoles this fall. Florida State was also one of the most efficient redzone teams in the country last fall. They scored on over 90% of their trips to the redzone and scored a touchdown on more than 73% of their attempts. The issue was getting to the redzone. Oregon transfer Mycah Pittman could help with this issue. He totaled 38 receptions for 547 yards and two touchdowns during his tenure with the Ducks. Those who follow the Seminoles closely have said Pittman has separated himself to be one of the best playmakers on the team.
Florida State has the advantage of playing Duquesne in week zero while this will be LSU’s first game of the season. Both programs finished in the bottom half of the country in points per game and points allowed per game. The LSU offense against the Florida State defense is going to be the deciding factor for this game. LSU’s offense cycled through players last year including starting a wide receiver at quarterback in their bowl game. Myles Brennan should start for the Tigers again but he will have competition. Florida State’s defense struggled for the majority of the season allowing at least 24 points in nine of their 12 games. LSU will need to figure out a way to score points while if Florida State’s defense improves they have a good chance at winning this game.
The Florida State vs LSU game may not be the biggest matchup of week one but the Sunday timeslot makes it a must watch game. If LSU wins the Brian Kelly era gets started on the right foot while Norvell’s seat gets even warmer. If Florida State wins, Norvell can start to build momentum likely starting the season 2-0 (assuming they beat Duquesne in week 0). LSU is currently a 3.5 point favorite over the Seminoles. The game is in Death Valley so you know the stadium will have an electric atmosphere. Can Novell take his team into Baton Rogue and come out with a win over the Tigers?