NC State (4-3) at Florida State (4-3) Oct. 29, 12:00, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … With baby steps in each of the past two weeks, Florida State is gradually creating a fresh start following its disappointing first half of the year. The Seminoles have defeated Duke and Maryland by identical 41-16 scores to move above the .500 mark for the first time in over a month. The program is using the softest portion of the schedule to get healthy, regain some confidence and work a few of the younger kids into the rotation. The job of head coach Jimbo Fisher and his assistants will be to keep the players focused until the next marquee game, a Nov. 12 visit from rival Miami.
North Carolina State is in the midst of a revival of its own, winning consecutive games against Central Michigan and Virginia. The latter was an upset in Charlottesville, easily the school's most impressive victory of the year so far. The Wolfpack has renewed hope of winning the three games necessary to become bowl-eligible, especially since head coach Tom O'Brien has exhibited a knack for rallying troops in the latter stages of the season.
Why NC State Might Win: Despite a mess of injuries to his supporting cast at the skill positions, QB Mike Glennon is starting to make a mark on the offense and the rest of the ACC. He's thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of the last six games, presenting a challenge to an inconsistent Florida State pass defense that's short on takeaways and lockdown cover guys.
The junior is elevating the play of his young receivers, such as redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, and is hoping to have veterans T.J, Graham, Jay Smith and Tobais Palmer all at his disposal this weekend. If the turnover trend continues, the Seminoles are going to be in trouble; they rank last in ACC turnover margin, while the Pack is first.
Why Florida State Might Win: Since getting trucked by Oklahoma on Sept. 17, the offense has amassed some momentum courtesy of four straight games with at least 30 points. A healthy E.J. Manuel has settled down behind center, while getting more help from some of his younger teammates. True freshman RB Devonta Freeman has rushed for 100 yards and a score in each of the last two games, and underclassmen Rashad Greene, Christian Green and Kenny Shaw have all chipped in at the receiver position.
Greene is the best of the bunch, but has been saddled with a bum ankle. An overmatched NC State offensive line will get whipped by a Seminoles front seven that's responsible for a No. 3 national ranking in tackles for loss.
What To Watch Out For: Wolfpack CB David Amerson has snuck up on conference quarterbacks. Pack coaches, though, knew they had a good one when they plucked him out of Dudley (N.C.) High School. The 6-3, 195-pound sophomore leads the country with eight interceptions, including a game-sealer last week in the win over Virginia. Manuel might want to entirely avoid No. 1, who's been the catalyst for an attacking defense that ranks No. 5 nationally in takeaways. The ‘Noles will become eminently vulnerable on Saturday if they allow NC State to dominate the turnover battle.
What Will Happen: The formula and the ingredients are a little different than they were when the season began, but Florida State is finding a way to get back on track. The Seminoles will continue to seek balance on offense, paying special attention to ball-control and the prevention of turnovers. The D will manage Glennon with pressure, getting in his face with enough regularity to disrupt his timing and rhythm. The Wolfpack's problems up front will be impossible to ignore as the ‘Noles sell out with some of their best athletes at end and linebacker.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 31 … NC State 16
CFN's Take: NC State vs. Florida State
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