TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- When Notre Dame's fourth-down touchdown was stricken from the record, it meant a streak continued for No. 2 Florida State. Not the Seminoles' 23-game winning streak, but one that goes all the way back to 2012.
Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby has not allowed a touchdown since Nov. 17, 2012. Maryland receiver Kevin Dorsey beat Darby, then a freshman, for a second-half touchdown. Darby said no receiver has scored on him since, a total of 25 games.
"I hope he keeps that up," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said.
His streak looked finished when the Fighting Irish's Corey Robinson caught what looked to be the game-winner two weeks ago, but the officials flagged Notre Dame for offensive pass interference. Darby said it was his responsibility to follow Robinson to the boundary.
The receiver matchup Thursday against No. 25 Louisville will test Darby's streak again. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Darby will at times square up with the Cardinals' DeVante Parker, a 6-3, 211-pound senior and potential first-round pick. Last week, Parker's first of the season after suffering a foot injury in camp, he hauled in nine passes for 132 yards.
Darby said he welcomes the challenge. While his streak is in doubt on game days, it is his preparation throughout the week that, coupled with his all-conference talent, has enabled Darby to keep opponents out of the end zone.
In high school, Darby played primarily running back and was rarely lining up in the defensive backfield. So when he arrived at Florida State, he didn't know how to study opposing offenses. He didn't try as hard as he could have either, he admitted.
This offseason, however, Darby has spent more time breaking down film than ever before. A persistent groin injury kept him sidelined throughout spring practice, which afforded him more time to get comfortable with new defensive coordinator Charles Kelly's play calling and break down offenses.
"I watched more film on teams," Darby said. "I like to look at the formations first, see what they like to do out of them. Once I go through formations, I like to go through routes and the type of receiver and how he comes off the ball when it's a run or pass play."
Once the summer rolled around and Darby was cleared to participate in 7-on-7 sessions and fall camp, it was back to working on his on-field techniques. Many of those intrasquad sessions are No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense, so Darby was often matched against Rashad Greene, the school's career leader in receptions. Last season, he would have to mark Kelvin Benjamin, an imposing 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver who is one of the early favorites for the NFL's offensive rookie of the year.
"A bigger dude [like Parker], you have to be physical," Darby said. "I used to have to check KB all the time and he was big and fast, so I was used to it."
Although Parker has rarely played this year, Florida State is cognizant of the threat Parker, a preseason All-ACC selection, poses.
"All you have to do is look at the last two years. You know exactly what you're going to get," Fisher said. "The guy is a heck of a player."
While the responsibility won't rest solely on Darby's shoulders, if he can keep his streak alive against Parker, there is a good chance the Seminoles can keep their own streak alive against Louisville.