Roundtable: Wake vs. FSU Prediction

#24 Florida State (2-0) faces their first true challenge this Saturday on ESPN2 when they take on #18 Wake Forest (2-0). This is a big game for Florida State and the success of the season. We discuss the Wake Game,the implications, etc in the Roundtable.

Mack-This is Florida State's first real game of the season after playing two warm up games. The older players on the team remember that embarrassing 30-0 loss at home two years ago. I believe this year will be a whole new year for Florida State. In past years it could have been argued that FSU did not really respect Wake Forest and may have overlooked them. The Deacons now have the attention of the Seminoles. The team has been preparing for this game for a couple weeks now. This is a better team than last season based on early statistics and personnel upgrades. The defense will be shorthanded but there is still enough talent to win the game.

Florida State adds arguably their top offensive player (Preston Parker) on Saturday. Wake Forest must defend the whole field as compared to prior years. They also must have the personnel to match up with Florida State. Defensively, Wake Forest has played against two average defenses in Baylor and Mississippi. Florida State is faster, and more talented than both of those defenses. Wake lost their top playmaker in Kenny Moore who allowed them to do so much offensively. Riley Skinner is an efficient quarterback that doesn't hold on to the ball too long. FSU must apply pressure on him.

Now, this is a BIG game for the program and I expect them to respond. FSU will be on top at the end…… 31-17.

Jason-I've really not been comfortable with this game ever since it was announced, but I am so comfortable with how Ponder has looked in the first couple games that I really think FSU is going to be able to score some points. I think our defense will still give up some points, but I expect our offense to come out and score on its first couple drives and give us some breathing room. If we can get ahead early, look out. We could very easily lose this game, but if we're able to come out hot and put some points on the board right away, it could turn out to be a wider margin than anyone expects. The big concern has to be Wake Forest's ability to keep our defense on the field by running the football against FSU's depleted DL. The key number for the defense is seven: if the defense can force seven three-and-outs, the 'Noles win this game going away. I think Wake will have its moments on offense, but I think Ponder and the offense will just be too much. FSU 31, Wake 20.

Fish-The reason I feel Florida State will win is because this game means so much to program and the direction they are heading in. Win and most fans, media and opposing teams will have to take notice. Pretty much most outside of the Florida State program think Seminole football is dead. What better way to shut those doubters up by pulling off a win against Wake Forest this weekend. The Seminoles come into this game with a lot to be confident about. With the emergence of Corey Surrency to a receiver corps that has Preston Parker and Greg Carr already is going to the Seminoles a major edge against Wake secondary. Add in Bert Reed and the Seminoles now have a deep threat that opposing defenses will have to respect. Why will these guys make a major impact. It now allows FSU to open up the field and force Wake to not bring the extra guy in the box. FSU young offensive line will now see only 6-7 guys in the box instead of the 8-9 they have seen the past two years when Drew Weatherford was playing. This now allows FSU to become more balanced and forces Wake to respect both the run and the pass. On defense for the Seminoles they add Budd Thacker to the mix. He gives FSU four defensive tackles and one that brings a ton of experience to the mix. With the loss of Geno Hayes and Marcus Ball most would think Florida State would be hurting at linebacker. While they lose some athletic ability with those guys there will be less mental breakdowns which is very important considering Wake Forest can make an undisciplined defense look back. The secondary for Florida State just needs to keep the Wake receivers in front of them because they lack game breakers.

For Wake it comes down to the same thing it always does: Coaching and solid play on the football field. They are not a team that does a ton of things flashy. Wake will try to keep the game close and pull away in the 2nd half. If Florida State gets an early lead it will make it more difficult for them to win the game. Wake is not as good coming from behind. I also feel that if they get behind the fans at Doak could make life difficult for them this week. The offense is led by Riley Skinner. FSU must pressure Skinner to disrupt their offense. They don't need to sack Skinner but knocking him down a bunch of times is important. Wake comes into this game with a solid but not great offensive line. They have struggled at center were they lost an All-Conference Center. This helps FSU out because they lack a ton of depth at Defensive Tackle. At the end of the day this is a Wake team that relies on the other team making mistakes. If that does not happen this week Wake will have some problems pulling out a win.

Final Thoughts- FSU 31- Wake 20 - The reason I picked Florida State is because for the first time in five years this program has a direction. From the players down to the coaches there is a confidence brewing inside the football program. If Florida State can win ENOUGH battles up front then this could be a game they win easier then most thought. If the lines do well but not great then it will be much closer and Florida State wins by less then a touchdown. I don't expect anything less then what was mentioned about because of where the game is played and the importance of the game itself. In the end FSU MUST WIN.

Nate-5 years ago who would have thought that Florida State was going into a big game versus Wake Forest, a team the Seminoles have traditionally dominated since they joined the ACC. Wake has won two years in a row, and come into Doak after giving FSU it's most embarrassing defeat at home when they shut-out the Noles 30-0 in 2006.

This is a must win for the Noles, not only because of the team trying to right the ship, so to speak, but because a win means they place themselves in a good position to contend for the ACC Championship. This team has been talking about resurgence all off-season, so they must come out a win this game on national television. A Wake win means they're the favorite to win the Atlantic Division, and means that they'll join Clemson as the only team in the ACC to beat the Noles 3 times in a row.

FSU is 13-3 in their last 16 ACC openers, while Wake is 2-5 under Jim Grobe over their last 7 conference openers. The difference between those FSU teams and the one we'll see this weekend is that the 2008 version of FSU is still without 5 starters on defense. The position hit the hardest has been along the defensive line, primarily at tackle. This position is the biggest question mark on a defense that has been otherwise dominant against its first two opponents.

Wake has always given FSU fits. This year the Demon Deacons are an experienced group who's loaded with 5th year seniors. The test for the Seminoles this week is far and away tougher because of the experience this team has over a Nole team that plays 27 freshmen. Add to that the fact that Wake has won 10 of its last 13 away games; it's no wonder why some people question if FSU can get out of this weekend with a win.

On offense Wake Forest has an experienced quarterback in Riley Skinner and a talented running back in Josh Adams. What have hindered this unit are the question marks at the receiver spot and an offensive line that is still looking to find some cohesiveness amongst the group. FSU's defense is especially vulnerable up the gut, but the addition of Budd Thacker should energize that group. I have yet to see a Wake Forest line that can dominate this group, even though they're missing 3 of its top players. Wake's offense must be able to pass the ball on FSU's defense, and scheme to find FSU's young linebackers out of position. I am not sold that Wake cant run FSU.

FSU's offense has done what they needed to do for the most part. Preston Parker is coming back this week, so who is Wake going to key on among FSU's offense. The primary indicator of success for FSU this week is the play of the offensive line. A starting group of Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, Antwane Greenlee, Will Furlong and Andrew Datko seem to be gelling, and back-ups David Spurlock and Joe Tonga have showed promise. This unit must get push up front to allow Antone Smith space, and must continue their ability to pass block well. We'll most likely see a lot of Christian Ponder in this game, with D'Vontrey coming in for certain formations and play calls. This could be Ponder's coming out party. If he can continue the play that we've seen from him in the first two games FSU will be more than fine at this position.

I feel that Wake doesn't have enough on defense to stop the litany of playmakers FSU has. This is a different team with a different mind set. This group of players, though young and unproven, has a chip on their shoulders and is out to make a point in this game. The summer has led up to this one game. I feel like we'll see a team looking for retribution from 2006. I think the game will be close early, but I feel FSU has too much on both sides of the ball with their size and speed. Wake, while 2-0, hasn't seen this speed yet, and they haven't played this FSU team. I'm going with a 36-20 win for the Seminoles.

Richie-I think Florida State wins this game and here are my reasons.

1. Budd Thacker and Preston Parker. Both the offense and the defense will receive a huge boost receiving a player that brings both energy and toughness to their respective unit. Adding you team MVP from a year ago to the offense will give Florida State another huge weapon to an already deep receiving core. Don't forget Parker can line up in the backfield too. Thacker is the meanest player on defense and will help add a little depth to the thinnest position on defense at this point.

2. Intangibles. Yes Wake Forest has won two in a row over the ‘Noles' but I don't think that gives them as much of a mental edge as it normally would for a team. As much as I hate to talk about ‘payback', the team definitely hasn't forgotten the last time Wake came to Doak. Florida State will be more than ready for this game.

3. Jimbo. Jimbo has said that the team in general feels a lot more comfortable in his offense and they know what he is trying to accomplish when he calls certain plays. Christian Ponder is naturally a quick learner at everything, from school work to Jimbo's playbook and it had shown. The best part for Ponder is that he doesn't have to do much. If he can just get the ball into his playmakers hands, the offense will move and out up points, Overall, I think this will be a close game, but I fully expect Florida State to pull away late. I think this will be a great game for Florida State fans that will see an offense who can actually do their part and not rely on the defense carrying them then entire way. I know Wake Forest is a great team and executes to perfection, but look for FSU to come in ready and do the same. Florida State just has too much of a talent edge and this will be the first time in the past two seasons that they do not get out-coached. Jimbo Fisher has more control now and Mickey Andrews has put in enough new wrinkles to get the job done.

Bottom Line. I don't see Wake Forest beating Florida State three years in a row and I think this is the first FSU team in a while that will know how to handle and finish a big game.

Florida State 34 Wake Forest 21

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