The Florida State defense has been much improved from a year ago, but will face a good test in the Wolfpack offense. Scoring has not been an issue as Quarterback Russell Wilson has been sensational at times and the 'Pack have a sound running game.
The 'Noles are currently giving up just over 16 points per game and will have a hard keeping their opponent under that total in this one. Expect them to come out fired up and to move the football early.
The brightest spot offensively for FSU has been the steady running game and on paper it does not appear that there is much that NCSU can do about that. There is a sizable edge with the Offensive Line against the 'Pack defensive front. This should allow an "open playbook" as NCSU should have to try and gamble schematically at times.
The question will be "does FSU choose to come out and establish the run or do they come out throwing only to turn to the run game after they have loosened up the defense". Early results point to the latter. However there is something to be said for coming out and pounding the football early on the road.
How healthy is Christian Ponder? We will find out at the game; he claims to be fine and we will take his word until proven otherwise. This is a game where he certainly could use some help--maybe Bert Reed gets into space or the tall youngsters continue to step up.
While FSU is capable of winning a track meet, the defense might be good enough to prevent it. That is what we will know at the end of the night. IS this defense really THAT improved from a year ago?
Everything is in place for FSU to be "exposed". The 'Noles are going on the road against a quality opponent in front of a fired up crowd, coming in on five straight wins, after a week off, with plenty of youth and inexperience. Throw in a banged up QB and that this is Jimbo Fisher's first year as a Head Coach against a savvy veteran in Tom O'Brien and there are plenty of factors that point negatively.
We don't think that any of that stuff will matter and this team will show that they are "for real". There are going to be some early struggles, but mid-way through the 2nd quarter, the 'Nole Offensive and Defensive lines begin to assert their dominance. The defense forces a mistake by Wilson early in the third(we'll call Greg Reid on the interception) and FSU cruises to a 41-24 win in Raleigh.