Florida State will look to book a second straight trip to the ACC Championship and a third in four years on Saturday as the Seminoles head to Winston-Salem to take on the 4-5 Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Florida State is coming off of an impressive 41-14 victory over Miami and will hope to improve to 9-0 for the first time since 1999 and 7-0 this season in ACC play.
Since a 4-3 start, the Demon Deacons have dropped consecutive games including a 13-0 shutout at Syracuse on Saturday. Wake Forest was held to just 213 total yards and lost its leading receiver and the ACC’s reception leader, Michael Campanaro, very early in the game. With three games remaining, Wake Forest will have to finish at least 2-1 to become bowl-eligible and avoid missing out on a bowl game for a second straight year.
Florida State has won three of the last four meetings, but dating back to 2006, Wake Forest has actually won four of the last seven. Florida State blanked Wake Forest 52-0 in Tallahassee last September. In that one, Florida State racked up 385 yards rushing with Chris Thompson leading the way with 197 yards on just nine carries and two touchdowns. The Demon Deacons managed just 126 total yards in the loss.
In Florida State’s last visit to Winston-Salem however, the Seminoles committed five turnovers and more than 100 yards in penalties in a 35-30 loss. Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price passed for 233 yards and three scores that day as the Demon Deacons snapped a two-game skid to FSU. The last Seminole victory at Wake Forest came on November 14th, 2009 in what would be the first career start for Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel passed for 220 yards and a touchdown while Jermaine Thomas finished with 149 yards and a score on the ground in a 41-28 FSU victory. To book a second straight trip to Charlotte, here are Saturday’s keys to Seminole success:
“Wake” up in time
With Saturday’s contest being a noon start and Florida State coming off of a big win over Miami, the Seminoles may find it difficult to get up for a below .500 team that just lost its best player. With style points now mattering, Florida State needs to waste little time taking control of the game. Florida State has not trailed in any game since being down 17-3 early at Boston College on September 28th and that’s a trend that needs to continue.
Don’t “miss” direction
Jim Grobe’s misdirection offense has given Florida State trouble in the past and has been able to generate big plays. Against Jeremy Pruitt’s fast, aggressive defense, expect Wake Forest to try to use the Seminoles’ speed against them. Boston College, who had more success than any other offense against Florida State this season, was able to trick the Seminoles a number of times by rolling the passer one way and throwing back the other. The Demon Deacons will likely try to do the same thing with quarterback Tanner Price. That will put pressure on rush-ends like Christian Jones, Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher to not get caught crashing down while forcing young defensive backs like P.J. Williams, Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews to stay home and not get caught chasing the football.
Beat Wake, not Florida State
In Florida State’s last trip to Wake Forest, the Seminoles were their own worst enemy finishing with five turnovers and 109 yards in penalties, many of which kept Wake Forest drives alive. The only way that Saturday’s contest becomes interesting is if Florida State kills itself with self-inflicted wounds. There is a huge talent gap between the Seminoles and Demon Deacons and Florida State cannot allow turnovers and penalties to hinder what should be another easy victory.