NC State (3-3) at Florida State (6-0) Oct. 26, 3:30, ABC/ESPN
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Being a ‘Nole hasn't felt this good in more than a decade.
It's been a very long time coming, but Florida State is relevant on a national level, courtesy of last week's improbable 51-14 obliteration of Clemson on the road. The Seminoles are No. 2 in the initial BCS rankings, and are led by a bona fide Heisman contender, QB Jameis Winston. Heck, this weekend the program will build another bridge to the glory days by holding Bobby Bowden Day to recognize its legendary coach. Now all FSU has to do is maintain by playing in the second half the way it did in the first. NC State has had its share of struggles during Dave Doeren's debut, going 3-0 against non-AQ opponents and 0-3 versus teams from the ACC.
Why NC State Might Win: Florida State was riding high last year, ascending to No. 5 nationally, before getting stunned by the Wolfpack. Different circumstances, sure, but there are a lot of holdovers on the NC State roster who know what it feels like to beat the Seminoles. The Pack has had two weeks to get healthy and get refocused. Best of all, it welcomes back QB Brandon Mitchell, the one-time starter who's been out since the opener. He gives State its best chance of successfully operating Doeren's up-tempo system.
Why Florida State Might Win: The Seminoles are better than the Wolfpack at every unit, the foundation for a blowout. You want balance? Florida State ranks No. 3 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The exploits of wunderkind Winston have been well-documented in recent days, but how about Jeremy Pruitt's defense? The ‘Noles go two-deep with size, speed and tenacity, a major hurdle for an NC State offense that's flimsy up front and giving the ball to a quarterback who last took a snap in August. This does not figure to be pretty for the visitors.
Who To Watch Out For: Florida State CB Lamarcus Joyner played like an All-American last week at Clemson, yet he's never going to get the attention he deserves. In fact, the ‘Noles are such a collaborative effort on D that many of their players tend to get overlooked outside the region.
- If NC State is going to hang around beyond halftime, it'll need a monster effort from the veteran D-line. Tackle Thomas Teal and ends Art Norman and Michael Rose must pressure Winston, preventing him from picking apart a secondary already down one starter.
- Florida State RB James Wilder Jr. is listed as day-to-day after suffering a concussion. The ‘Noles can afford to be cautious since Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams are eminently capable of shouldering the load.
What Will Happen: Letdown? More like conquering heroes returning to Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles will revel, with Bowden in attendance, in their new spot as one of the nation's top contenders for a national championship. NC State is the wrong team to be catching Florida State napping the week after an emotional win.
Prediction: Florida State 47 … NC State 13
Line: Florida State -31.5 – O/U: 58
Must See Rating: (5 The Counselor – 1 Last Vegas) … 3
CFN's Take: NC State vs. Florida State
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