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FSU vs. NC State: Staff predictions

The Tomahawk Nation staff chimes in.

North Carolina State v Florida State Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

On Saturday, Florida State University’s football team will host the Wolfpack of North Carolina State. From what I recall, football is a popular American sporting event played during the fall and winter months on a 100-yard-long rectangular field. Then again, it’s been so long since FSU played a game, some of that may be outdated. Feel free to add any corrections in the comments section. Anyway, here’s how we think this one plays out.

Matt Minnick:

NC State is a solid team. They should be coming into Doak Campbell 3-0, but disastrous special teams play (boy, does that sound familiar) cost them a win against South Carolina, despite the Wolfpack moving the ball up and down the field on Will Muschamp’s defense.

However, FSU fields an elite defense, has a stable of talented running backs, a good offensive line, and big, physical receivers. James Blackman will be throwing his first collegiate pass, but he doesn’t need to be spectacular for FSU to win the game. In fact, NCSU’s secondary has been so bad, he might just need to get the ball in the vicinity of his play-makers on the outside and let them do the rest.

I expect NCSU’s d-line to be disruptive, and I’m sure there will be a couple of “freshman moments” from Blackman. But FSU is just too good to drop this one at home.

Florida State 27, North Carolina State 14

Dakota Moyer:

I’m glad that FSU gets NC State in a noon game, instead of a high-intensity environment for James Blackman’s first career start. Get the freshman throwing early and often to get adjusted to the speed of the college game. Patrick and Akers should be able to find success early as well, which will lead to a balanced attack throughout the game.

The Wolfpack have some playmakers on their team, especially on offense with QB Ryan Finley and H-Back Jaylen Samuels. Expect to see Samuels deployed in a variety of ways, from slot receiver to lined up in the backfield. Bradley Chubb leads a stout defensive line, but NC State’s secondary has struggled so far. If FSU is going to win this game, it’s because Auden Tate and Keith Gavin were able to consistently get open and make Blackman’s day easier.

In the preseason, I called for FSU to lose this game. But, situations change. Now, the Seminoles are coming off of weeks of rest instead of a tough game against Miami. I think Blackman has his freshman moments, but does enough to lead the ’Noles to their first victory of the season.

Florida State 27, NC State 17


I really have no idea how this game is going to end. So many questions. Is NC State really that susceptible to big plays? Can James Blackman handle the moment? Can FSU recover from the long break in between games?

I think Jimbo tries to go big early to give Blackman and the team confidence. If this succeeds, FSU wins easily. If it doesn’t, the defense will have to come up huge.

I’ll go middle of the road:

Florida State 24, NC State 21


Thank goodness we finally get to see FSU play football again! I like a heavy dose of Patrick and Akers to test the NCSU DL early to open the short passing game. FSU will look rusty on offense and FSU’s defense will make NCSU’s look worse. I expect JB1 to make a couple of bad turnovers but also expect the defense to punish the Pack.

Florida State 27, NC State 17


NCSU has often been a pain in FSU’s side, but that’s when the game is in Raleigh; this game is in Tallahassee. We’ll see a rabid FSU team at high noon come out and physically dominate early after being unable to hit a different color jersey for three consecutive weeks.

NCSU has some good skill players in Jaylen Samuel and Nyheim Hines and an effective junior quarterback in Ryan Finley. It has a very talented, experienced front seven, particularly along the defensive line, but I expect FSU to dominate in the trenches early for the Seminoles’ defensive line and late for their offensive line.

Jimbo will make things comfortable for his freshman quarterback by effectively throwing on first down while mixing in some unconventional run game (bubble screens, jet sweeps, reverses) using FSU’s wide array of super talented, albeit sometimes unfocused, skill players en route to a competitive but comfortable win.

Florida State 31 NC State 13

Kyle Griffis:

I honestly have no idea what to expect on Saturday. The ’Noles could win by 21 or lose by 10, and I wouldn’t be all that shocked with either outcome. I’m hoping James Blackman is as good as advertised. I hope to see him operate well on a limited playbook — lots of screens and easy throws mixed in with a healthy dosage of Cam Akers on the ground — and I trust Jimbo to use him properly and not overwhelm him. I hope he plays well, and the FSU special teams unit puts that Alabama game debacle behind them. Blackman has had plenty of practice time, let’s see it come together in live action.

Oh, and good luck to NC State trying to score on this defense. The ’Noles are finally back and playing football in the friendly confines of Doak Campbell, all is right in the world.

Florida State 27, NC State 13

Michael Rogner:

So stoked that football is back, even if it is just NC State. Since we’re on a new QB, I think the Wolfpack will avoid a running clock.

Florida State 42, NC State 10


Slim Jim Blackman will do just enough offensively while the FSU defense dominates the Wolfpack’s offense.

I expect Fisher will keep the offensive game plan simple enough to allow Blackman to succeed with mostly short passes, while allowing him to throw the occasional downfield shot to open up the run game. I’m hoping Fisher has Slim throw on early downs to keep the NCSU defense from teeing off on third and long.

I think it will be a 60/40 run to pass ratio, with Patrick having a 100-yard night, and Akers spelling him while continuing to get acclimated to the college level game.

Special team will show improvement from the last game— how could they not?

Florida State 38, NC State 16

Curt Weiler:

The talent on NC State’s roster is undeniable. Its defensive line is among the best in the country, Samuels may be the offensive counterpart to Derwin James, and Finley’s accuracy and knack for not turning the ball over are impressive.

That being said, the talent on FSU’s roster is exponentially more impressive.

The potential equalizer here is obvious. A FSU true freshman quarterback will be starting for the first time in over 30 years. Still, praise of Blackman has been high and the skill position players around him should be able to make up for his shortcomings, at least on this Saturday.

The FSU defense wears down the Wolfpack offense and the game is comfortably in hand by the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Florida State 31, NC State 14

Perry Kostidakis:

Two weeks without playing a game means two weeks of extra practice, and I think that difference will pay off huge for Florida State in its home opener. That’s two extra weeks of game prep, two extra weeks of acclimation for James Blackman and two extra weeks to shake off any emotional letdown from losing to Alabama.

I expect Jimbo Fisher to use James Blackman, aka Beast Thin, in a similar manner to how Everett Golson was deployed in 2015. Easy, game-managing football, with play action passes set up by a consistent rush game.

NC State has one of the conference’s better quarterbacks in Ryan Finely, and he’ll likely be able to make a few things happen, but the Wolfpack’s rushing attack has left a little to be desired. Florida State’s strength for the rest of the season will be its defense, and things should be no different on Saturday.

I expect a comfortable Seminole win, though one that might not be completely put away till sometime in the fourth. Florida State could show off some growing pains on offense, but a strong defensive effort will ease out those bumps in the road.

Florida State 34, NC State 17

Andrew Miller:

Another week, another bold prediction by yours truly. NC State’s front seven will cause havoc on the Florida State offensive line and will force an already antsy James Blackman to move around the pocket and not get comfortable. In the end, the true freshman won’t be able to get situated and will have a decent game at best.

Yes, the FSU offensive line played well against Alabama, but I’m not sold quite yet on the unit. If they play well again vs. NC State, I’ll be a believer. Running back Jacques Patrick will score a TD on the ground with Blackman throwing another through the air.

As far as defense, NC State will have one drive which they score a touchdown through the air on a well put together drive. I’ll say that comes later in the first half. The Florida State defense is still susceptible to the big play, as evident against Bama, and QB Ryan Finley can create just that.

As far as the two field goals, one will be due to an unfortunate FSU turnover giving the Wolfpack good field position, and the other just off a good drive that the ’Noles defense is able to halt late.

Florida State 14, NC State 13

David Visser:

Yes, Jimbo Fisher is an offensive coach. But he also coaches holistically. So let’s think about the Seminoles’ attack while keeping the other facets of the game in mind. FSU has a true frosh QB, an adept pass-blocking RB behind an equally impressive OL, a nice stable of deep threat receivers, a stellar defense, and unreliable special teams units. Translation: chuck that thing down the field. Despite what many assume, longer throws are often easier for inexperienced quarterbacks, and the Wolfpack secondary is garbage. And if a couple of passes get picked, they’ll probably just function as longer versions of FSU punts. Other than shot plays, FSU should lean heavily on its talented running backs, as well as any young QB’s best friend: the tight end.

Finley is accurate for NCSU, but mostly on underneath stuff, and this ’Nole defense is good enough that you’re just not going to sustain many 14-play drives against it. Absent the big play (except, maybe, on special teams), The ’Pack simply won’t have enough fire power to keep up.

Florida State 30, NC State 13

As always, be sure to listen to the Nolecast for predictions from Bud and Ingram.