FSU vs NC State: Preview and Prediction

Florida State ADVANTAGES NC State
fsu_seminoles_logo_detail FSU Run Game vs NC State Defense

Florida State has one of the top rushing attacks in the nation, in large part due to the efforts of Davlin Cook.  Cook has established himself as one of the best backs in the nation and is on the cusp of setting the all-time single season rushing record at FSU.  This is despite running behind a line that is really not that great.  The shuffling of FSU’s line continues this week as Chad Mavety looks to get the start at RT with injuries to Derrick Kelly and Brock Ruble.  S&P+ ranks the rushing attack as the 3rd best in the nation.

NC State has been good against the run this year ranking 30th in S&P+.  They’re giving up just 113 yards per game and 3.42 yards per rush.  Good rushing teams have had success against the Wolfpack, though, with Clemson, Louisville, and Virginia Tech all eclipsing 200+ yards and 4.5 yards per carry.

I like the Noles behind Davlin Cook and Jacques Patrick.

 fsu_seminoles_logo_detail FSU Passing Game vs NC State Defense

Florida State continued their road passing woes last week at Clemson.  The good news for Noles fans is that the Florida State passing attack has been much better at home in Doak Campbell Stadium.  Everett Golson gets the reins again this week and he’s had success this year at home throwing for 1,128 yards on 70% completion percentage and 9 touchdowns with no interceptions.

NC State has an bad pass defense ranked 83rd by S&P+.  They’ve given up huge days to Clemson and Boston College (compared to the normal BC output) in the last few weeks.

There’s no denying the fact that the Noles have been more comfortable throwing the ball at home and I think that’s the difference here as FSU once again finds success through the air in friendly confines against a pass defense closer more Syracuse than Clemson.

fsu_seminoles_logo_detail NC State Run Game vs FSU Defense

NC State has the #1 ranked rushing offense according to S&P+.  That probably comes as a huge surprise as they don’t put up great numbers and is in large part due to solid performances against Clemson and Boston College the last two weeks.  Both of those rush defenses are among the best in the nation and they averaged 5.00 and 4.21 yards per carry, respectively, against those two foes.  Junior Matthew Dayes has been a pleasant surprise after the loss of Shadrach Thornton earlier this season.  Dayes averages 108 yards per game and 6.46 yards per carry while shouldering the load for the Wolfpack. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has the second most carries on the team and while he isn’t a dynamic runner, he’s good enough that teams have to at least respect his ability to keep the ball.

Florida State has been good against the run this season ranking #39 in the nation in run defense based on S&P+. The Noles are giving up 4.03 yards per carry and have surrendered just 5 touchdowns on the ground all season. The front four have been very good as the play of Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas has really elevated as the season has progressed.  The Noles haven’t given up more than 5.33 yards per rush in any game this season and only more than 5 yards per carry twice.  Clemson found success last week late in the game after the Noles were worn down with Clemson running 85 plays.

S&P+ disagrees with me, but I think FSU has the advantage here.  The Noles only real struggles against the run this year has been when the face an effective runner at the quarterback position.  I don’t think Brissett is good enough to take the main focus off the running backs and in those cases the Noles have fared very well.

 fsu_seminoles_logo_detail NC State Pass Game vs FSU Defense

Jacoby Brissett is a good quarterback that certainly gave Florida State fits last year playing part Houdini and Montana.  It still remains the only 300 yard passing game of his career.  This season he has protected the ball well throwing just 2 interceptions to 14 touchdowns, but against good competition he has not been all that accurate or prolific.  Since the cakewalk four games to open the season, Brissett hasn’t completed more than 58% of his passes in any game with only one game at more than 6.7 yards per attempt.  NC State has the 54th best pass defense in the nation according to S&P+.

The Florida State defense boasts arguably the top corner back tandem in the nation. Combined Jalen Ramsey and Marquez White have surrendered very few completions compared to targets as White, particularly, has been dominant allowing single digit completions on the year.  The Noles did a pretty good job against an elite quarterback last week holding Deshaun Watson near his season low in completion percentage and yards per attempt, and touchdowns.  The pass rush has been much improved over last year and the return of Terrance Smith last week helps to shore up the middle of the defense some.  After a dreadful stretch when Trey Marshall went out earlier this year, former walk-on Javien  Elliott has played well in the star position and has reduced the number of big plays over the deep middle of the field and by the slot receiver.  The Noles have the 17th ranked pass defense in the nation according to S&P+.

I like FSU’s matchup on the outside as Ramsey and White are both excellent, and they’re both physical corners who well. The Noles know what Brissett did last year and I’m sure our eager to show last year as a fluke.

fsu_seminoles_logo_detail Special Teams

NC State has a horrible place kicker, making only 40% of his kicks this year, so the Noles certainly have the advantage their.  Both punters are good averaging around 43 yards per punt.  Florida State has the advantage in the return game with dynamic returners, but NC State has been excellent in kickoff return coverage giving up just 20 yards per return.  The different in kickers give the Noles a decided advantage here.

38 Prediction

On paper this is a game that FSU should win comfortably.  They have the advantage in nearly every area.  The only thing that gives me pause is the emotions of 18-20 year old kids.  Most of the goals for this team were dashed in a disappointing loss last week against a rival.  Do they have the ability to pick themselves up and get emotionally ready for a 12:30 kick in front of a crowd that, I’m sure, will lack energy?  I think they will, eventually.  This might be a sluggish, uninspired start, but the talent will ultimately shine through and the Noles win this one going away.  This team just seems to play better at home and I don’t foresee Brissett having an encore performance from last years effort.


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