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Staff Predictions: Florida State vs. No. 5 UNC

For just the second time in school history, the Seminoles face off against the No. 5 team in the country in back-to-back weeks

Notre Dame Athletics

Frank DNole

The fans are mad. The coaches are mad. The players are mad.

This will finally be the game where the defense and offense both perform nearly flawless for an entire game.

Forget what the oddsmakers predict. Forget the point spread. Florida State football has that one special element that will beat that other team from the Carolina of the North.

“The Element of Surprise.”

THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY 45 - Baby Powder Blue Uniform Wearers 27

Perry Kostidakis

Continuing with Frank’s Spongebob theme, this is what FSU does each and every week to its fanbase:

That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress — even with the defense struggling, there’s been a clear improvement in moral, buy-in and fundamentals — but this team is what it is, warts and all. Each week, the goal has been to build off the previous week, and since the loss to Miami, that goal has been achieved.

“Don’t focus only on the results,” is kinda the subliminal message we got from coaches this week, and that’s the mentality that the viewership should adopt. This team went 6-7 last year, limping its way through the schedule as the seams of program ripped more and more. It’s a slow and steady stitching process to get things functional again.

North Carolina 45, Florida State 34

Evan Johnson

We’ve seen improvement at FSU from what the team was last year and even from the start of this year, which is very encouraging. UNC is probably over ranked because the B1G and PAC12 are not yet playing so they probably aren’t as good as their ranking would indication. UNC’s defense, like most everybody’s defense this year, has been quite suspect and offers FSU lots of opportunities to put up points. More encouragement! That’s about where it ends. I don’t think FSU can stop UNC at all and unless the Tar Heels turn the ball over a ton I don’t give FSU much of a chance to win. Ultimately, for me, that’s not the point of the game. The point is to see growth and progress from the team and I think fans will, just not in the win column.

UNC 45, FSU 30


Another weekend, another tough opponent. I’m looking for a lot of playing time and valuable reps from younger skill players this week. Hope to see more from young WRs and another week of improvement from the OL. Defense... yeah, not even gonna talk about that. Gonna be a shoot out that FSU doesn’t have enough firepower to win.

Tar Heels 48, Seminoles 34


It’s going to get worse record wise before it gets better but there is noticeable improvement on the field. It’ll be tough without Tamorrion Terry but UNC will be the worst defense on the schedule to date; unfortunately I just can’t see FSU’s lackluster defense stopping Sam Howell and the Boys. Player of the game? Jashaun Corbin.

UNC 45, FSU 38

Jon Marchant:

I don't think FSU can keep up with what looks on paper as a potential barn-burner. I think Sam Howell is really good and this 'Noles defense is not a good matchup for an Air Raid offense obsessed with attacking space. On the other side, can the Seminole offense be consistent? That's the next step. I want to see it.

UNC 44, FSU 27


If Terry was playing, I would have loved to have predicted an upset. Without Terry, I’m just not sure there’s enough threats at receiver to bail Travis out. Unless the defense suddenly clicks. I don’t think the offense can keep up with UNC.

North Carolina 42, FSU 28


I want to see continued growth from this program this week. It’s sad that is where we are but that’s what I’m going to hang on to for right now. Have no idea what to expect from this team at 1-3 but they seemed to fight their tails off against Notre Dame. When they discuss “focusing on us” they mean it because FSU has been its own worst enemy.

I expect 500 plus combined rushing yards in this game and would feel better about the offense if Terry was available. All of that said I can’t pick the Noles to upset.

UNC 45, FSU 34


North Carolina 62, FSU 30

Austin Cox

In my Four Downs column a few days ago, I wrote about the incredibly low bar that the FSU defense will be working with against North Carolina’s daunting offense on Saturday night. It remains to be seen whether they can actually take advantage of that. After giving up just 7 points in the second half last week, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the defense show some backbone versus quarterback Sam Howell and the Tar Heels. Look out for that improvement to possibly occur in the coming weeks, just not against UNC.

If the offense can hold on to the ball even a little bit more than it did against Notre Dame (32 minutes time of possession), that should keep this a one-score game for much of the evening. I think if this matchup were in Chapel Hill, I would like UNC by 17-21 points. But in Doak, I’ve got FSU keeping this one close well into the fourth quarter.

Too much offense from Carolina, both on the ground and through the air, and the Noles will drop to a sobering 1-4 for the first time since 1975.

North Carolina 41, Florida State 30

Matt Minnick

For the second consecutive week I’m picking FSU to cover against a top 5 team. That right there is proof of improvement from Norvell’s squad. True rebuilding projects—which this one certainly is—tend to follow a path something like this: lose big —> lose small —> win small —> win big. To be clear, I don’t think FSU has fully progressed into the “lose small” category quite yet, but we are definitely moving in that direction.

FSU’s offense has started to look like a unit that at least believes it’s good at something. An identity is being developed and even without Terry for a couple weeks, I expect it will continue to build. The defense...well, they just need to start trusting their coaches to put them in the right spot and just react. Quit thinking as much and make a few tackles. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening against a talented and well-coached UNC offense.

On a perfect fall night when Doak turns into the OK Corral, the Tar Heels and Seminoles blow past the over/under sometime in the mid-to-late third quarter, with UNC left standing after the shootout.

UNC 48, FSU 40

Kevin Little

I might be the lone wolf that takes Florida State. Do I think UNC is a better team? Absolutely. Do they have a potential to score every play? Without a doubt. But FSU is playing their second alumnus coach of the year and I have a good feeling about this one. Mack is an FSU fan deep down and he's going to subconsciously sabotage his team against us this year because he knows we need it more.

That and my wife is a UNC fan and I need this game for the in house morale boost.

FSU 45, UNC 42