TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Southern Miss coach Will Hall has worked alongside Mike Norvell and faced some of the nation’s best teams over the years. He believes No. 4 Florida State could top the list.
“They’re probably the best opponent I’ve ever coached against,” Hall said. “I played Bama in ’21, and they played for the national title. I think this team is a little better than them. … They don’t have any weaknesses. They’re good everywhere.”
Hall was Memphis’ associate head coach/tight ends coach in 2018, helping Norvell and the staff guide the Tigers to the American Athletic Conference title game. Now they are on opposite sidelines as the Seminoles (1-0) host Southern Miss (1-0) on Saturday.
Florida State is playing on a short week following a dominating, 45-24 victory over then-No. 5 LSU. The Seminoles scored 31 unanswered points in the second half in the only Week 1 matchup between two ranked teams.
The Seminoles will be trying to avoid a letdown, and Norvell and his assistants maintained their intensity in practice this week. Longtime defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins often yelled, “The little things matter! Do your job!”
Florida State is a 30 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, to improve to 2-0 before beginning Atlantic Coast Conference play. Southern Miss opened the season with a 40-14 rout of lower-division Alcorn State.
Norvell has been on the losing end to a Football Championship Subdivision team before, with the Seminoles falling at home to Jacksonville State in 2021. While Southern Miss is in the Group of Five, Norvell and his staff learned from that lesson and chose not to go with any lighter practices despite having one fewer day to prepare.
“You have to have that constant push,” Norvell said. “Coming on a short week, one day less in our prep for the game, guys’ bodies are a little bit sore and tired. You got to be able to push and work through that.”
GORE FOR 3,000?
Southern Miss’ Frank Gore Jr. has 2,920 yards rushing in his college career and is on the verge of a milestone. He didn’t do much against Alcorn State, carrying six times for 29 yards and a touchdown.
Gore ran for an eye-popping 329 yards on 21 carries in Southern Miss’ 38-24 bowl win over Rice and finished 2022 with 1,382 yards on the ground. But he hasn’t done much against Power Five opponents, rushing for just 7 yards at Alabama in 2021 and 10 yards at Miami in 2022.
Florida State has won seven consecutive games, the longest active streak among ACC schools and the fifth-longest in major college football.
The 31-point second-half outburst against LSU matched the highest scoring total in a half by one of Norvell’s teams since he arrived ahead of the 2020 season. Florida State also scored 31 in the first half twice in 2022 (at Miami, versus Boston College) and against No. 5 North Carolina in 2020.
For the fifth time in program history, Florida State scored 45 points against a top-five opponent. The last time it happened was in a 51-14 win at No. 3 Clemson in 2013, the year the Seminoles won the national title.
The Seminoles won the last meeting 42-13 in a 2017 bowl game. While Florida State holds a 14-8-1 lead in the series, Southern Miss captured a surprising 30-26 victory in 1989, with Brett Favre tossing the game-winning touchdown with 23 seconds left in Jacksonville.