No. 4 Florida State can probably play at several levels below its best Saturday night and still win comfortably against visiting North Alabama in Tallahassee.
But fourth-year coach Mike Norvell vows the Seminoles (10-0) will give their FCS opponent the same respect they give anyone else. That includes Miami, whom they beat 27-20 last week to clinch an 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference record and a spot in the league’s championship game on Dec. 2.
“I’ve watched them make the investment,” Norvell said. “And we are going to respect the opportunity and we are going to respect all the work that these guys have poured in to get to this point. We are going to improve this week.”
Florida State, which likely is three wins away from a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinals, got 265 passing yards and a touchdown from Jordan Travis against Miami. It continued an excellent season for Travis, who is completing just over 64 percent of his passes for 2,734 yards with 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Keon Coleman has been his favorite target with 42 receptions for 562 yards and 10 touchdowns. Johnny Wilson has 30 catches for 497 yards, while tight end Jaheim Bell has 34 grabs for 406 yards. The running game is spearheaded by Travis Benson (721 yards, 6.4 yards per carry, 10 TDs).
The win over Miami was just the third by a touchdown or less for the Seminoles, who are outscoring teams by an average of 21 points. It was their 16th straight win, dating back to a 34-28 setback to Clemson on Oct. 15, 2022.
That run, the third longest currently in FBS behind Georgia (27) and Washington (17), is why Norvell is so insistent on treating this game like any other.
“If we don’t apply those lessons, we are not achieving the objective of what we set out for,” he said. “We need to go get better.”
While Florida State aims for improvement and another win, North Alabama comes to the end of a long season with a big paycheck at the end of a not-so-beautiful rainbow. The Lions (3-7) have been idle since a 27-14 loss on Nov. 4 against United Athletic Conference foe Central Arkansas.
The one highlight from that game was a milestone. Sixth-year senior Takairee Kenebrew tied the school record for most touchdown catches in a career with 25, grabbing two in the second half, the second one with 3:46 remaining in the game.
“I had been through a lot throughout my career,” Kenebrew said. “So just to have that accomplishment, it just feels really great. But I’m not stopping at tying it. We still got another game to go to break it.”
That Kenebrew reached the record is even more amazing when one considers injuries held him out of all but two games from 2018-20. Since the start of the 2021 season, he has amassed 1,825 receiving yards.
This will be the first meeting of the two programs.
–Field Level Media
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