A week after a bounce-back performance against USF which saw Florida State put up 55 points of offense, the Seminoles return home to a stiffer challenge: a showdown with the defending ACC Coastal Division champs North Carolina, who is a narrow loss to Georgia away from being 4-0 entering Tallahassee. But will the Seminoles’ uprising continue against the Tar Heels or will another solid opponent bring FSU’s issues to the surface once again. Here’s what our staff members believe:
So the offensive line has taken a step forward. And Dalvin Cook went full Dalvin on USF. Seriously, those guys have given Cook more film than a lasagna dish in a kitchen sink. UNC's run defense is overly porous these days: The Tar Heels’ "best" performance included 4.2 ypc and 3 TDs allowed on 50 runs to James Madison, The Fighting Dukes of JMU. In fact, 3 of UNC's 4 opponents have run the ball 50+ times on them. Look for FSU to capitalize on this, run the ball down their throats, and if they want to put 9 guys in the box - Jimbo comin' with the oopty-oop. Can't decide if FSU scores 50+ because of North Carolina’s lack of run defense or because the Heels sell out and Deondre Francois makes some easy throws. UNC can score and with Florida State’s safeties, that might be a lot. Give me 52-34, Garnet and Gold.
UNC has a good offense & a poor defense (especially against the run). FSU has a good offense (especially their running game) & poor defense (so far, at least). If Florida State blocks as well as they did against USF and Cook runs well again, it could be a very long afternoon for the Tar Heels. I expect this to be another high-scoring game, but in the end, the ‘Noles win by 10-14 points.
It appears the FSU offense found a combination on the OL that could produce promising results, particularly on the ground. Add in UNC's struggles to stop the run and this game is shaping up to be another Cook and Jacques Patrick show from the FSU offense. Still not convinced the Florida State defense can put up much of a fight, particularly when UNC goes to the air, but with the game being in Doak, I'll side with the home team in a shootout.
FSU 41, UNC 37
After watching a couple of UNC games, I believe that FSU will rely on the running game and a defense that tries to keep everything in front of them to the tune of a 42-28 victory. I expect the Florida State defense to basically dare North Carolina to try and run the ball because UNC head coach Larry Fedora has a tendency to forget how good his running back is. Trubisky is a talented QB; accurate, a scramble to throw not scramble to run type QB with a couple of NFL targets at wide receiver. So, if the Seminoles are going to win this game, containing wideouts Mack Hollins & Ryan Switzer, limiting yards after catch will be the biggest key. On offense I expect FSU to rely heavily on outside zone, power runs, qb power runs, and play action & I think they'll get their most explosive runs running to the right side. Mikey Bart is a relentless pass rusher but UNC is poor at setting the edge on both sides; this should be a huge game for the running game, again.
FSU/UNC will probably end up closer than it should be. I think UNC’s talented punt returner, Switzer, might take one to the house against a struggling punt team. The running game gets going and carries FSU to the win.
FSU 38, UNC, 28.
I like FSU's resurgent ground attack against a pourous UNC rush defense. And while I respect Mitch Trubisky, he's not a mobile threat like the QB's that have given Florida State’s defense fits so far this year. I still think the Heels will score quite a bit, but I don't think they'll be able to keep up with FSU on Saturday.
Noles 45, UNC 28
I am expecting this to be the most dominant game played by the ‘Noles so far this year, on both sides of the ball.
The Florida State defense will hold the Tar Heels to around 350 yards of total offense, much of it coming in garbage time. The FSU offense will pick up where it left of during the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the USF game. I think Cook will have at least 125 yards rushing and will also be featured catching passes out of the backfield early to soften them up. Cook, combined with Patrick and Francois will have over 250 yards rushing, and Frenchy will throw only for about 200 yards. I think FSU will come out throwing early on to force North Carolina to abandon loading the box, which is what I expect the Heels will try to do to start the game in order to try to slow down Cook.
This game won’t be as close as the final score indicates.
FSU 44 – UNC 24
This is certainly a game of strength against weakness for both teams as UNC's offense is very good while their defense is not (sound familiar), meaning that the Tar Heels generally find themselves in shoot outs. While I'm not positive FSU's offense is as good as North Carolina’s, I don't think it will have to be. The big thing to watch is whether or not FSU's defense can string together stops. If they can, I like the Noles big.
FSU 45 - UNC 28.
The reigning champs of the Coastal venture into Tallahassee holding scoreboard rights over the Noles--and also sporting one of the best offenses in the conference. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, their run defense has more holes than the Swiss cheese offered up by Sam Cassell at the local wine tastings. And that's not a good thing when facing an FSU offense that suddenly features a 1-2-3 (or even 4?) punch in the running attack.
Dalvin and Patrick both go over a hundred, a receiver scores on a jet sweep, and the defense gets enough stops in the second half for the Noles to pull away.
FSU 56, UNC 44
Dalvin Cook and Jacques Patrick will absolutely torch the UNC defense. However, the FSU defense will struggle just as much with the Tar Heel’s accurate QB Trubisky. In a very high scoring affair, the Florida State offense should be able to power out a victory in a game that will take 4 1/2 hours to complete. At least its not a noon game.
Florida State’s matchup with UNC is intriguing, to say the least. What makes it so interesting is that both teams’ potent offenses succeed at what their opposing defense struggles with.
North Carolina’s talented passing attack, highlighted by Trubisky, who has not thrown an interception this year, and Switzer will challenge a Florida State secondary that has been exposed to this point as being very susceptible to allowing chunk plays through the air. On the other side of the ball, FSU will look to exploit the Tar Heels’ questionable run defense that has allowed over 200 yards on the ground per game this season with its two-headed monster of Cook and Patrick.
In the end, Florida State runs for upwards of 300 yards and the Seminoles’ defense gets a few more stops than UNC does.
I've had my doubts about FSU's chances in every game so far this year except Charleston Southern. For whatever reason, I'm just not getting that hesitant vibe as the Seminoles' contest against North Carolina approaches. Despite allowing 35 points to USF, facilitating continued carping from the 'Nole fanbase, the defense took important strides, and I think they'll continue to cohere as a unit.
On offense, I'm simply not sure that the Tar Heels can stop Florida State's rushing attack, as I detailed recently, especially as Jimbo Fisher further incorporates Francois' legs. Cook, Patrick, and company run right through the Heels, the young receivers' roles continue to expand, and FSU tops UNC. North Carolina 27, Florida State 42.
Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith
For Bud and Ingram’s predictions, tune into their UNC preview edition of the Nolecast.