Here's The Deal: Carter-Finley Stadium has been an unfriendly stop for Florida State, which has lost five of the last seven times it traveled to Raleigh as a ranked team.
The Noles will attempt to buck a trend that’s been festering since 1998, while rising back up after last week’s emotional, Jameis Winston-less win over Clemson. FSU remains No. 1 in the polls, but public support for the team has been waning.
For second-year NC State coach Dave Doeren, it doesn’t get much bigger than this matchup. Sure, the Pack is 4-0, but it hasn’t played anyone better than Old Dominion or South Florida. Shock the world this week, though, and Doeren’s rebuilding plan goes into overdrive.
Why Florida State Might Win: Four games into the season, the Pack still isn’t battle-tested. The schedule has been far too soft. NC State has issues on both lines, which are about to be exposed by the Seminoles. Yeah, the Florida State O-line has underachieved up to this point, but this is its chance to be dominant again, while springing RB Karlos Williams. And on defense, DT Eddie Goldman will create major matchup problems with a middling Pack front wall.
Why NC State Might Win: The Wolfpack is confident and trending in the right direction. More than just winning, State is improving. It’s scored at least 42 points in each of the last three games, getting the balance that Doeren craves. The Pack is averaging 6.3 yards per carry, while new QB Jacoby Brissett has thrown 10 touchdown passes to just one pick. And it’s not as if Florida State has looked invincible in any of its first three victories.
Who To Watch Out For: All eyes will be on Winston, who’s back in—full—uniform this week. Obviously eager to get back to action and prove himself, it’ll be interesting to see if he tries to do too much in the early going. State has plenty of veterans on defense, but not a lot of scary talent. Once Winston settles down, he can go about the business of finding WR Rashad Greene on deep balls and TE Nick O’Leary on the intermediate stuff.
What’s Going To Happen: While Florida State has an obvious edge in talent, this is not an easy spot. Raleigh rarely is for the Noles. They’ve got the ultra-intense Clemson game behind them, and NC State will be revved up to have the top-ranked team in town. The Pack can stay close in this game, but not for 60 minutes. FSU’s edge in the trenches will eventually create separation, while Winston captures some on-field redemption for his off-field gaffes.
Prediction: Florida State 41 … NC State 23
Line: Florida State -19 o/u: 58
Must Watch Factor: (5: Roosevelts: An Intimate History – 1: Red Band Society) … 3.5