The Daily Nole

What to Watch For Wednesday: FSU to Face Arizona State in Sun Bowl

Mitch White/FSU athletics

Merry Christmas, everyone!

We understand that many of you may be busy with family, but it is our obligation every Wednesday to let you know what’s on the agenda for Florida State athletics for the coming week. If you have some extra time, check out what’s on tap:

1. FSU football faces Arizona State in Sun Bowl
Florida State football will try to avoid consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the mid-1970s on New Year’s Eve as the Seminoles travel to El Paso to take on Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. The Seminoles come in with a record of 6-6 and will be without some key pieces to include running backs Cam Akers and Khalan Laborn, quarterback Alex Hornibrook, linebacker Dontavious Jackson, safety Hamsah Nasirildeen and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.

Without a scholarship running back, FSU will likely have to rely on its quarterbacks in James Blackman and Jordan Travis. Tamorrion Terry is FSU’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 2014. With so many injuries on defense. FSU will need a big day from the defensive line, including end Janarius Robinson and tackle Cory Durden. With Nasirildeen out, sophomore cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. may be the best player in the secondary for FSU.

Arizona State comes in with a record of 7-5. Like FSU, the Sun Devils had a 1,000-yard back and 1,000-yard receiver. As is the case with Akers for Florida State, Eno Benjamin will not play for Arizona State as he has set his sights on the NFL Draft. FSU will have to find a way to contain the prolific Brandon Aiyuk and fellow receiver Frank Darby who each caught eight touchdowns this year. Aiyuk will not play, however, as he also prepares for the NFL Draft. Arizona State also has a dynamic quarterback in freshman Jayden Daniels.

The strength for the Sun Devils is the defense. Arizona State ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in both total and scoring defense. Linebacker Darien Butler leads the team with 77 tackles and three forced fumbles. Cornerback Jack Jones leads Arizona State with three interceptions. Among Pac-12 teams however, only Arizona recorded fewer sacks this season. Tuesday’s match-up is the fifth between the teams but first since 1984. It begins at 2 p.m. EST and airs on CBS.

2. FSU hoops wraps up non-conference, resumes ACC play
After rallying from 10 points down in the second half to beat South Florida in the Orange Bowl Classic, Florida State hoops will wrap up non-conference play on Saturday against North Alabama. The Seminoles have won three straight, thanks to a balanced scoring effort. Guards Trent Forrest and Devin Vassell each average 11.9 points per game to lead the team. Led by Jamari Blackmon’s 13 points per game, the Lions are off to a 5-7 start this season. Saturday’s contest begins at 2 p.m. EST and streams on ACC Network Extra.

FSU will began a stretch of 18 straight ACC games on Tuesday at home against Georgia Tech. The Seminoles swept the regular season series last season and have won three straight in the series. The Yellow Jackets are just 5-6 so far this season. They do however, have four players averaging in double figures, led by Michael Devoe’s nearly 18 points per game. Tuesday’s contest begins at noon EST and airs on ESPNU.

3. FSU women’s hoops aims for new school record
After beating Michigan on Sunday, Florida State women’s hoops will look to set a new school-record by winning its 13th straight game to start a year when it hosts Virginia Tech on Sunday. Senior forward Kiah Gillespie averages a double-double with 15.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and is coming off a triple-double. Nausia Woolfolk and Nikki Ekhomu are an excellent duo of guards. FSU rallied for a thrilling 56-54 win over the Hokies last season in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech is off to a 10-1 start this season. Guard Aisha Sheppard averages 17.3 points per game this season to lead the Hokies. Sunday’s contest at the Donald L. Tucker Center begins at 2 p.m. EST and will air regionally on Fox Sports networks.

4. Norvell builds a staff
New Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell has wasted no time putting a staff together and it could be complete by next week. So far, Norvell has retained wide receivers coach Ron Dugans and defensive line coach Odell Haggins. Norvell has also added former Auburn offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, Memphis defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, TCU’s Chris Thompsen as deputy head coach, Mississippi State linebackers coach Chris Marve, Charlotte offensive line coach Alex Atkins and Maryland special teams coach John Papuchis. Norvell currently has just two openings remaining and those will likely be used on a running back and defensive backs coach.

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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