Sunday, April 22, 2018
Colleges

Wilder keeps FSU ground game going

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State showed it can rely on its running game when QB Jameis Winston has an off night. And former Plant standout RB James Wilder Jr. showed he is back from an injury.

The third-ranked Seminoles pounded out 192 yards on the ground in Saturday's 41-14 win against Miami.

Devonta Freeman, the No. 3 rusher in the ACC, had 78 yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts.

Wilder ran for 42 yards and two touchdowns on 81 yards. He was held out last week with a concussion, and a shoulder injury had previously limited him all season. Wilder looked like his old, bruising self against the Hurricanes.

Karlos Williams also had 46 yards on five carries.

The Seminoles converted 11 of 15 third downs against Miami and were 5-for-5 on third and less than 5. Wilder rushed for three of those first downs, Freeman converted one and Winston threw a screen to Rashad Greene on the other.

"Very physical. Ran at the goal line very well. Blocked very well," coach Jimbo Fisher said of Wilder. "Played a very good football game. Glad to have him back out there. He looked strong and healthy. … He and Karlos are big-body guys that can hit it up in there. James has done it a lot of times and been in those situations and is very physical at the point of attack.

"We were great on third down, but we were in third and manageable situations a lot, too. … We were able to be physical with the offensive line. Physical at tight end. Physical at fullback and being able to run the ball up in there, which is critical."

Fisher said earlier this season that the offensive line might be the best he has had at FSU. The blocking from the tight ends and receivers has opened room on the second level.

"Our backs are truly being more accountable and dependable on a down-in, down-out basis," Fisher said. "Especially on those critical downs.

"You call what you do well. We've (run on short down-and-distance) well in camp, done it well in practice and it's succeeding in games. … Last year we had problems, so we had to find ways to try to overcome that."

syracuse time set: FSU will host Syracuse at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 16. The game will either air on ABC/ESPN2 or ESPNU.

UCF: Happy in the spotlight

ORLANDO — Getting the chance to play a high-stakes conference game in front of a national television audience represents the latest in a line of big opportunities for No. 19 UCF this season.

The Knights (6-1, 3-0) host Houston (7-1, 4-0) Saturday in a game that could put them in command for the American Athletic Conference championship and an automatic spot in a BCS bowl.

"I think it's a great opportunity," Knights coach George O'Leary said Monday. "We've got to win the game to stay in first place in conference. That's enough right there. Obviously, there are a lot of implications on that game as far as how the season's going to sit with a lot of people. I doubt we have too many people rooting for us as far as within the conference."

UCF is coming off a bye, so it had the advantage of getting to watch Houston beat USF 35-23 last week.

"Yes, it's a huge advantage," Knights RB Storm Johnson said. "Then, we rest up on a bye week, too. It gets us real ready for a big game."

Houston, which is averaging 41.1 points this season, is led by freshman QB John O'Korn. He has 22 touchdown passes and four interceptions. The Cougars are the only team in the nation to have scored in every quarter this season.

The number that has really caught the Knights' attention, however, is that Houston leads the country with 29 takeaways.

"They're aggressive," Knights WR J.J. Worton said. "They gang tackle and they don't take plays off. They're a good effort team. They all try to get to the ball. We know what we have to do. We have to protect the ball. We have to do what we know we can do and just be consistent at it."

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