It became official with the release of the AP college football poll on Sunday: No. 8 Florida State will play it's first Top 25 game of the 2013 season when it welcomes newly christened No. 25 Maryland to Tallahassee, Fla.
FSU will have its first top 25 matchup of the year against No. 25 Maryland— FSView (@FSView) September 29, 2013
Some fans may look at it as an easy opportunity for the 'Noles to embellish their resume with that exciting date with Clemson coming in two weeks, but don't overlook the Terrapins, who are undefeated through four games. They're outscoring opponents, 159 to 41, and look far different from the team that was forced to play a linebacker at quarterback last season following injuries to their four other options.
But what does this mean for FSU? How can they use the last game in which these two teams will meet as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference to better themselves for the long run this season?
The first, and most obvious, reason comes in the form of it being another good test for a young Florida State defense. After giving up 34 points to Boston College on Saturday and starting off sluggish in each of their four wins, the Seminoles will get a chance for redemption against the Terrapins.
Florida State, however, will have its hands full with sophomore wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who is the best receiver that the Seminoles will see this season. Through four games, he has 400 yards and three touchdowns on only 18 receptions, averaging 22.2 yards per catch. His average may be aided by a 66-yard reception against Florida International in the season opener, but that doesn't take away from the dominating performance that Diggs has put in this season.
Rushing-wise, Maryland has three players who have over 100 yards total this season. They are sophomore running backs Brandon Ross (332) and Albert Reid (116) along with senior quarterback C.J. Brown (283). Defending the run has been Florida State's nagging weakness, so this is the game that the defense will either show progress or be exploited some more.
Most importantly, FSU has to work on its tackling. More and more examples of missed tackles have showed up in its last few games. It may be a case of the Seminoles' defenders trying to do too much, as head coach Jimbo Fisher has noted about his young athletes this season.
Offensively, the Seminoles have seemed to figure things out. Jameis Winston is playing like a redshirt senior, not a freshman, and Florida State has one of the best backfields in the country, second only to perhaps Georgia. Outside of the occasional dropped ball and a slow start or two, there isn't too much to nitpick about the 'Noles when it comes to their offense.
Maryland will provide a test for Florida State and the Seminoles will need to address their concerns if they want to not only prepare for the Clemson game, but also avoid being upset at home by a low-key, but good, Maryland team.