It will be Bobby Bowden Day at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday as the second-ranked Florida State Seminoles get set to host N.C. State.
For the first time since 1999, Florida State is 6-0, while N.C. State enters the contest coming off of back-to-back losses and a bye week. N.C. State is just 3-3 on the season and the only team in the Atlantic division without a win in ACC play.
While Florida State has hope of playing for its third national championship, the Seminoles are also looking to defend their ACC crown and will be facing the only team in conference to best FSU a season ago. Florida State is coming off of an impressive 51-14 rout of then third-ranked Clemson while the Wolfpack had a bye week after dropping consecutive ACC games to Wake Forest and Syracuse.
When the teams met last season in Raleigh, Florida State looked to be cruising to a sixth straight victory jumping to a 16-0 lead. Mike Glennon rallied the Wolfpack and tossed the game-winning touchdown to Bryan Underwood with 16 seconds to play giving N.C. State the 17-16 victory.
Although N.C. State has won the last two meetings in Raleigh, the Seminoles have won the last three in Tallahassee including a 34-0 shutout in 2011. The last N.C. State victory in Tallahassee came in 2005, but in the last 12 meetings, the teams are an even 6-6 against one another. For Florida State to avenge its only ACC loss from a season ago, here are Saturday’s keys to Seminole success:
With it being Bobby Bowden Day in Tallahassee, the Seminoles coming off of a huge win against Clemson and a big game against a top 10 rival in Miami a week away, the biggest challenge for Florida State on Saturday may be keeping its focus on N.C. State. To this point, that has not seemed to be a problem for Florida State although the Seminoles did allow Nevada to hang around for the better part of a half in the home opener. If Florida State can ignore all the fan fare and play well early, this one has the potential to be a rout.
Make Devonta a “Free Man”
Florida State ranks in the top 30 nationally in rushing averaging better than 210 yards-per-game on the ground. Despite having a trio of running backs that includes Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman has emerged as the Seminoles’ feature back. Freeman led the Seminoles with 84 rushing yards in the victory over Clemson and will be facing a North Carolina State defense that allowed 362 yards to Syracuse on the ground at home its last time out. While big passing days have come to be expected out of freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, the FSU ground game could be in for a big day on Saturday.
Don’t give it back to the ‘Pack
Aside from a mental lapse, the best chance for Florida State to get beat Saturday is by being careless with the football. Thus far this season, the Seminoles have not committed more than one turnover in any game and unless that trend changes on Saturday, FSU should have a great chance to improve to 7-0. N.C. State does not rank in the top 50 nationally in either passing or rushing and the Wolfpack are just 90th in scoring. If the FSU offense can avoid giving N.C. State a short field, it should be a good day for Lamarcus Joyner, Telvin Smith and the Florida State defense.