A week after coming up just short in a home upset bid against the Clemson Tigers, Florida State must move on quickly as the Seminoles travel up to Raleigh for a matchup with the NC State Wolfpack in a stadium where the ‘Noles do not play historically well at under Jimbo Fisher. Will it be a bounce back into the win column on Saturday or will the tough loss last week turn into two straight? Here’s what our staff members think:
Are we really thinking FSU could lose its 4th game of the year? Well, I don't know about everyone else, but I'm thinking it. NC State just seems to give Florida State fits and I think this year will be no different. NC State will look to run the ball and control this game. FSU's offensive line will struggle. The ‘Noles will probably score only a field goal in the first quarter but I think in the end FSU pulls it out, 24-21.
Last week, NC State got caught in a let-down/look-ahead sandwich game against Boston College and took a loss. Last week, FSU played its best game of the season but couldn't pull out a win against Clemson. I expect NCSU to bounce back strong and cause a lot of problems for Florida State up front. Will the ‘Noles do the same? The Wolfpack's offense is far from great and shouldn't cause too many problems for the FSU defense but the Seminoles creates its own problems. In the end, I think FSU pulls out a low-scoring win due to better talent. FSU 27 - NCSU 23.
Down an offensive lineman versus a ferocious front four and right after a physical and heartbreaking loss? Not exactly a recipe for success. Add in that FSU has lost its last four trips outside the Sunshine State and that the Seminoles are going to a place that has been a house of horrors for Jimbo Fisher and company and you have the makings of another letdown. Defense plays well enough to win but the offense settles for field goals and has three costly turnovers. NC State wins 23-16.
Last week I predicted that "This will be the ‘Noles' most complete effort so far in all 3 facets of the game, but will it be enough to pull out a win?" After playing their best game of the year so far against Clemson, the Seminoles will continue improving in every position group and FSU's depth and superior talent will take control and have this game decided by the 3rd quarter.
I don't think we'll see any drop off with Wilson Bell filling in for Landon Dickerson. In fact, I would not be surprised if he turns out to be an upgrade from here on out for the rest of the season. Cook will get over 150 combined yards and I think Patrick will see more action than he has so far and could make an impact. I also expect nice games from both Rudolph and Murray with them catching a good portion of Francois’ season-high 70% completed passes. I was disappointed Fisher abandoned the tight ends after opening the game successfully with the pass to Saunders, and I'm hoping Florida State starts using this mismatch more than it has so far.
Sermon Lane, the feel good story of the year, will continue to get better and I believe Lane will eventually become the on-field leader for the defense, at least until Derwin James gets back at 100%. I feel this way about Lane because I've noticed on more than one occasion that he seems to be the only defensive player on the field to fully understand the personnel and coverages as they are happening in real time, which is really amazing when you consider he just switched positions mid-season.
The final score will make it appear that the Wolfpack kept it closer than they actually did.
FSU 41 - The Baby Eating Dingo's 24
FSU heads to the House of Horrors known as Carter-Finley Stadium. For whatever reason, NC State seems to get up for Florida State whenever the Seminoles head to Raleigh.
I try to not get caught up too much by "soft factors", but I think the emotions of each team entering this contest will be very important. Florida State played well last week, but ended up losing an extremely rivalry game to Clemson. The Seminoles cannot allow one loss to morph into two. Meanwhile, NC State played poorly in a loss to a poor Boston College team, and the Pack should be out for blood at home Saturday night.
If Cook runs as he did last week and the defense continues to play well, FSU should win by a TD or more. I'm not overly confident that happens, but I'll take the ‘Noles in a tight one (obviously not overly confident in this).
FSU wins 21-20. In a rare low-scoring game in the ACC, I think the Florida State defense buckles down after some early troubles due to missing its top three safeties & allows the offense to come back on the road in Raleigh. Cook will do most of his damage as a receiver this week due to the loss of Landon Dickerson to a torn ACL. Deondre Francois will get off to a better start throwing than he did vs Clemson & Nyqwan 'Noonie' Murray will continue his ascent up the depth chart w/ two big plays on verticals down the field.
This game is scary. NCSU has a distinctive MO as a program and it goes as follows: under-perform against teams like BC and ECU, get blown out at least once each season, and play significantly above its weight class against UNC, Clemson, and Florida State--especially in Carter-Finley Stadium. On top of that, the Wolfpack have one of the better D-Lines in the conference, a physical secondary, and an NFL caliber running back.
For FSU to have any shot, three things need to occur:
A. Cook must continue his streak of 100 yard games, preferably 150+.
2. FSU cannot fall behind by double-digits early.
D. The ‘Noles need to score touchdowns, not field goals, when they get inside the 25.
I am confident in A and marginally confident in D, but 2 worries me...a lot.
I'm going to cautiously say the Pack cover but don't win. However, if you ask me at noon on Saturday I very well might say FSU goes down for the second week in a row (maybe even by double digits).
Florida State 28
NC State 31
Francois will have another mediocre game, and the offense will rely heavily on Cook, who will do all he can, but it won’t be enough. The Seminoles’ defense will be out on the field for too long and wear down over the course of the game, allowing NC State to take advantage. Yes, NC State has lost its last three. However, I still think the Wolfpack are a good enough team to take down Florida. Had the game been in Tallahassee, my outcome may have switched, but being in Raleigh, FSU falls just short.
Much emphasis will be placed on the start that Florida State gets off to in a hostile road environment on Saturday. Rightfully so. Unlike the Seminoles’ last trip to Carter-Finley Stadium, where FSU fell behind 24-7 in the first quarter, there’s no Jameis Winston on this roster. A poor first-quarter showing this time could doom FSU in a venue that has given Fisher fits so far in his coaching career.
However, that’s not how I see this game going. The Wolfpack have a legitimate running back in Matt Dayes but I don’t see NCSU’s quarterback, Ryan Finley, being able to take advantage of the Florida State secondary enough to affect the outcome, even with Trey Marshall out for the first half.
Cook becomes the all-time leading rusher in program history, Francois takes a step forward, Murray leads the team in receiving yards for the second straight game, and Florida State comes out with the win, 30-20.
There's been a curious sense of optimism about the Seminoles' trip to Raleigh for this weekend's game. I'm not sure if it was FSU's solid effort against Clemson or the notion that Florida State's struggles against middling opponents cannot last forever-- but until I see differently, I'm not buying it.
I tweeted on Thursday that, beginning with 2015's loss at Georgia Tech, the 'Noles are 4-5 in ACC games. They've been a losing conference program, and dropping games at Carter-Finley Stadium is certainly nothing new to FSU. But while I'll be surprised if the slow starts get fixed, especially given a new offensive line, I'll also be surprised if Florida State doesn't even out that conference mark. The talent takes over and is more than enough, as the 'Noles pull away in the second half. 40-24, Seminoles.
I don’t think this “let down” spot will hurt us; I think our inability to hit easier stuff on O and Francois holding the ball behind an OL which he shouldn’t is much more worrisome. NCSU sells out to stop the run, and has some nice size in their front 7. I thought Jimbo showed some great run-game adjustments in 2nd half vs Clemson to attack a fast-flowing defense when he went counter trey. Think he’ll be alert to that tomorrow, but I don’t expect more than 31 from us. I think our defense will struggle with having to play a 5th string safety out there, but that should be ameliorated to some extent by the beastful play of the DL. FSU 29, NCSU 22.