CFN's Take: NC State vs. Florida State

College Football News takes a look at tonight's contest against Florida State. NC State (2-4) will be looking to upset the Seminoles (4-1).

Florida State (4-1) at North Carolina State (2-4), 7:30 EST, ESPN, Thursday, October 16

Why to watch: Florida State comes out of its bye with as much depth as it's had all year and a chance to get back into the Atlantic division race. The Seminoles have no margin for error, courtesy of a loss to Wake Forest, but beating Miami two weeks ago could provide a catapult for the second half of the year. In that game, they racked up 41 points and 310 rushing yards, signs that the offense may finally be emerging from its funk. Although North Carolina State is one of the ACC’s bottom-feeders, it’s played the ‘Noles tough in recent years, especially at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack will need to overachieve once again in order to turn around a season that’s slowly slipping away. It’s just 1-4 versus FBS teams this season, and the lone win over East Carolina doesn’t look as good as it did last month.

Why Florida State might win: Line play, especially on offense, is a problem that plagued NC State throughout the first half of the season. The Pack just doesn’t create much of a push, a concern that’ll grow against the Seminole front seven. Florida State will dominate up front with ends Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett, and linebackers Derek Nicholson and Dekoda Watson. State has no running game to lean on, and hasn’t had any success navigating quality defenses. The Seminoles have the nation’s second-rated D.

Why NC State might win: Are we really ready to announce that the Florida State offense is back? QB Christian Ponder has run the ball extremely well, but remains a work-in-progress as a passer, throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions in three games against FBS opponents. The ‘Noles have been turnover-prone, and the line is still a question mark. If linemen Shea McKeen, Willie Young, and Antoine Holmes can get a push up front, it’ll force Ponder into the kinds of mistakes that keep the home crowd in the game.

Who to watch: The most pleasant surprise for Florida State in 2008 has been a running game that’s No. 14 nationally at 231 yards a game. Over the last two games against Colorado and Miami, the ‘Noles have cranked out 569 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. The spark has been provided by Antone Smith with a little help from true freshman Jermaine Thomas. If they keep running the ball well, it’ll allow Ponder to develop at a more reasonable pace.

What will happen: North Carolina State will come out pumped and ride the wave of emotion for a quarter before reality sets in and talent takes over. Florida State will dominate with its defense, shutting down the Pack running game and cashing takeaways into points. The ‘Noles will grind out yards on offense against an NC State defense that hasn’t been the same without injured star LB Nate Irving.

CFN Prediction: Florida State 24 … NC State 16 …. Line: Florida State -11.5

Must See Rating: (5 The Real Housewives of Atlanta – 1 Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew) … 2.5


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