Road to Tampa Bay: Game 7 - UNC

The last time Florida State played North Carolina at Kenan Memorial Stadium, the Tribe walked away victors of a 37-0 blowout. This season is expected to be a much closer game as former University of Miami coach Butch Davis has since taken over and turned around the football program at UNC.

When North Carolina takes the field against Florida State this season, they will rely heavily on quarterback T.J. Yates on offense, who started six games for the Tar Heels last season completing 60% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The biggest problem he will have is trying to find new receivers to throw the ball to as the Heels lose their top three receivers from last year in Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster and Brandon Tate.

The Tar Heels will also have to replace both their right guard and right tackle from last year in hopes to protect Yates and pave a way for running backs Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston, who will need to be more reliable this season in order to move the ball.

For Florida State to stop the Tar Heels on offense, it will take the defensive line to take advantage of UNC's weakness up front stopping the run early and getting pressure Yates. This season, Yates could be more effective as long as some players step up for him on the receiving end. If FSU gives him time to throw the ball around, he will be able to find players and slowly move the ball.

Defensively, the Heels are expected to be very strong. They only lose two starters from last year's team and return their entire starting front four, which could very well be the best d-line in the conference. Marvin Austin, who once was thought to be a Seminole during his recruiting process, could have a breakout season and help anchor the unit.

The back seven is headlined by linebacker Quan Sturdivant, who had an astonishing 122 tackles last season. Safety Trimane Goddard is the biggest loss of the group, but the Heels still have a very good and experienced secondary.

What Floirda State must do to win: This game will be one of the best battles to watch this season and will tell a lot of how good Florida State's offensive line really is as what some think is the best offensive line in the conference plays what some call the best defensive line in the league. FSU must control the battle in the trenches on offense if they want to be able to move the ball and not be forced to rely on the arm of Christian Ponder and his receivers. The same goes on the flip side as one of the weaker rushing attacks in the conference will go against one of the most unproven defensive lines in the conference. If either team builds a decent advantage up front, they will win this game.

NoleDigest way to early predication. Recently, Thursday night games have not been kind to Florida State. Even when they win like in last year's battle with N.C. State, the game is still a struggle. North Carolina will play their most recent FBS opponent 19 days before they meet Florida State giving them ample time to prepare before this game as they play Georgia Southern in the game before they meet FSU. Any time Butch Davis has that much time to prepare, he is capable of putting a dangerous team on the field. A tough team, where the offense will be forced to make things happen, in a tough environment, after what is expected to be an emotional game versus Georgia Tech will be a very tough test for FSU. Although the Seminoles are the better team overall, this will be one game where they just struggle to get it going and drop their first game of the season.

FSU 16 UNC 20

*FSU 6-1 (3-1 ACC)

Stay tuned to NoleDigest all month as we continue out "Road to Tampa Bay" series with out next installment looking at the Wolf Pack of North Carolina State. *Based on NoleDigest's way too early predictions.

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