The Daily Nole

What to Watch For Wednesday: FSU Soccer Faces UCLA in Elite Eight, Noles Visit Gators on the Gridiron

FSU athletics

While turkey is on the mind and for many of you, in the oven, a big weekend for Florida State sports is on the way.

The Seminoles will wrap up the regular season in two sports and try to move to within two wins of a second straight national championship in another. Without further ado, here’s what to watch for over the next seven days in FSU athletics:

1. FSU soccer hosts UCLA with College Cup appearance on the line
For Florida State to keep its national championship repeat bid alive, the Seminoles will need to avenge an early-season loss on Friday. In the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, the top-seeded Seminoles will take on No. 2 seed UCLA. FSU advanced with a hard-fought 2-1 win over South Florida while the Bruins blanked Wisconsin, 2-0. Jessie Fleming scored a pair of goals for UCLA in a 2-1 victory over the Seminoles in Los Angeles back on Aug. 29.

For the season, UCLA is 17-4-1 while FSU is 18-5. Junior forward Ashley Sanchez leads UCLA with 28 total points this season, including 14 assists — good for fourth nationally. Freshman Mia Fishel leads the team with 11 goals. For FSU, senior forward Deyna Castellanos leads the Seminoles with 12 goals, including the game-winner against USF on Sunday, and 36 total points. Through two NCAA Tournament contests, Kristen McFarland, a redshirt junior forward, has scored four of the six FSU goals. Jaelin Howell scored the lone FSU goal against UCLA in the first meeting. The teams will meet Friday at 2 p.m. EST.

2. FSU football wraps up regular season at Florida
Florida snapped its 5-game losing streak to Florida State last season in Tallahassee, but the Seminoles have not lost in Gainesville since 2009. Since a 4-5 start, FSU has won consecutive games under interim head coach Odell Haggins. The Seminoles have had strong offensive performances from quarterback James Blackman and wide receiver Tamorrion Terry. Although he did not play in the 49-12 win over Alabama State on Nov. 16, running back Cam Akers may be FSU’s best offensive player. Akers is over 1,000 yards rushing for the season and leads the ACC with 17 total touchdowns and 104 points.

FSU will try to find points against a Florida defense that allows just over 14 points per game and ranks fifth nationally in sacks with 38. Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard are a force on the edge while senior David Reese headlines the linebackers unit and cornerback C.J. Henderson the secondary. Offensively, quarterback Kyle Trask has been one of the nation’s more efficient quarterbacks. Trask doesn’t have a great offensive line, but No. 11 Florida is loaded at the skill positions with players such as running back Lamical Perine, tight end Kyle Pitts and wide receivers Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain and Trevon Grimes.

FSU has struggled defensively this season, but has played better the second half of the season. With Marvin Wilson out, Janarius Robinson, a redshirt junior end and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Cory Durden will need to have big games up front. Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen enters the week with a team-high 96 tackles. Saturday’s contest begins at 7:30 p.m. EST and airs on SEC Network.

3. FSU hoops participates in Emerald Coast Classic
After a couple of campus games against Chattanooga and Chicago State as part of the Emerald Coast Classic, FSU will make the short trip to Niceville to take on Tennessee and then either Virginia Commonwealth or Purdue as part of a 2-day tournament. FSU dropped its season opener, but comes in with a record of … on the season. Led by Jordan Bowden and a talented group of guards, Tennessee comes in with a record of 5-0 and a No. 17 national ranking. The Seminoles and Volunteers will play at 7 p.m. EST on CBS Sports Network on Friday night. The semifinals winners and losers will then play on Saturday. VCU is 6-0 and ranked No. 20. Purdue is 3-2 with losses to Marquette and Texas.

4. FSU hoops visits Bloomington for ACC/Big Ten Challenge
After a couple of challenging contests in Niceville, FSU won’t have much time to catch its breath as it travels to face Indiana in Bloomington on Tuesday for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Led by guard Al Durham and forwards Justin Smith and Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers are off to a 6-0 start — although against largely lackluster competition. After losing eight straight games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, FSU has won three straight, including a 73-72 thriller over Purdue last season in Tallahassee. FSU and Indiana will meet at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN2 in what will be the first meeting between the schools since the 1992 Preseason NIT. The Hoosiers are 4-0 all-time against Florida State.

5. FSU volleyball wraps up regular season at Miami
After sweeping Duke on Sunday, Florida State volleyball wraps up the regular season on Wednesday night at rival Miami. The Seminoles defeated the Hurricanes 3-1 when the teams met in Coral Gables on Oct. 30. FSU is 19-9 and 11-6 in ACC play and led by reigning ACC Player of the Year, Payton Caffrey. Caffrey ranks second in the ACC in kills per set while Taryn Knuth leads the ACC and ranks in the top five nationally in blocks per set. Miami comes in with a record of 10-14 and 6-10 in conference. Janet Kalaniuvalu is the best player for Miami. The Hurricanes have won the last two in Coral Gables.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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