Much has been made of the match-up between Florida State's defensive line (3 sacks per game) and N.C. State's offensive line (3.2 sacks allowed per game). N.C. State will be without three of its original starting linemen Saturday night, and the betting public has been quick to jump the original line from -13.5 to 17. N.C. State will need a strong rushing attack to hold FSU's defense - in attack mode vs. an immobile QB - at bay.
N.C. State rushed for its second-highest rushing yards per carry of the season at Miami, registering 4.9 ypc.
Considering that its season-high was 5.5 the week before vs. The Citadel, we might assume Miami is pretty terrible. Add to that that N.C. State had a huge day passing (440 yards, 4 TDs on 42 attempts) and we can all agree Miami's 97th-ranked FEI defense should make sure all 11 of their allowable players are on the field.
But back to N.C. State.
In N.C. State's two losses (Tennessee, @Miami) this year, Mike Glennon has thrown five TDs and six interceptions. In their three wins (South Alabama, The Citadel, @Connecticut), he's thrown five TDs and zero interceptions.
Tennessee and Miami scored 35 and 44 points on the Wolfpack. This to me suggests that in a shoot-out, Glennon is being asked to drop back and throw his team to victory. Couple that with the following:
N.C. State has attempted 48, 30, 34, 25, and 42 passes in each of their first five games this season. They've run the ball 32, 41, 43, 51, and 46 times (respectively).
That is a run:pass ratio of 40%, 58%, 56%, 67%, and 52% - values less than 50% indicate they've passed more frequently than run. N.C. State's offense must able to run the ball effectively and consistently and will need considerable help from its defense to avoid getting into a shootout. Interestingly, N.C. State ran all over Miami - to the tune of 5.8 ypc from their running backs. But that game featured a 4th-quarter TD that bounced off a defender's head into a Miami receivers arms amongst other craziness.
Florida State ranks 12th, 22nd, and 11th in FEI offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and field position advantage. N.C. State ranks 73rd, 34th, and 89th, respectively.
What does this mean? First, an explanation of terms. FEI offers a look at a team's efficiency of drives relative to their starting field position for both defenses and offenses. For instance, an offensive efficiency above 60ish indicates your offense is unsuccessful relative to the season's complement of FBS teams.
FSU is ranked highly in every category (top 8-17%), which puts them at 4th overall. FSU is doing very well in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense, special teams). Though below average on offense and special teams, N.C. State shows some ability defensively:
In FSU's three games against FBS competition, the defense is allowing 3rd down conversions only 27.1% of the time. That is #1 in the ACC and #6 nationally. N.C. State? 28.3%, good for #2 in the ACC and #8 nationally.
If the Pack can limit FSU's 3rd down conversions, FSU's offense could have trouble putting together long scoring drives. This would help N.C. State execute balanced run:pass drives with effective running in hopes of keeping FSU off of Glennon. FSU actually doesn't have the greatest rush defense thus far, ranking 41st in rushing (S&P+). So the gameplan is not too far-fetched. If only N.C. State had Russell Wilson to repeat their 2010 gameplan vs. FSU.