|Florida St||ADVANTAGES||NC State|
|FSU Run Game vs NC State Defense
Florida State’s running game has been good, but inconsistent this season. The Noles average 4.93 yards per carry, 37th in the county. Dalvin Cook is one of the top running backs in the nation and has rushed for 100+ yards in five straight games and is coming off a sensational performance against Clemson, averaging nearly 9 yards per carry against the Tigers. S&P+ ranks the FSU rush offense as the 7th best in the nation. Unfortunately for the Noles, freshman guard Landon Dickerson will be out for an extended period of time. While some continuity will be lost and there was a reason Dickerson was starting, the Noles have an experienced backup in Wilson Bell who started throughout 2015 and began the season as the starter.
NC State has the 11th best rushing defense in the nation per S&P+. The Wolfpack is led by a stout defensive front and are giving up just 3.24 yards per carry, 13th in the nation. Defensive ends Bradley Chubb, Darian Roseboro, and Kentavius Street have combined for 11 non-sack tackles for loss this year and tackles BJ Hill and Justin Jones are massive in the middle. Only East Carolina in the second game of the season has rushed for more than 4 yards per carry on the year and the Wolfpack haven’t given up more than 168 yards rushing in any game this season.
NC State will pose a major challenge for the Florida State rushing attack, particularly up the middle. Florida State has faced good defensive lines this year, including the best defensive line they’ll see this season last weekend, and had success. Dalvin Cook is really playing well right now and because of his talent, the Noles have a slight edge in this matchup.
|PUSH||FSU Passing Game vs NC State Defense
Florida State is rated by S&P+ as the 14th best passing attack in the nation. The Noles have a passing efficiency rating of 139.06, 47th in the nation. While FSU has a low completion percentage of 59.2 percent, they are averaging 8.2 yards per attempt good for 25th in the country. Quarterback Deondre Francois has shown a ton of toughness this season and promise, but he’s been inaccurate at times and has held the ball too long contributing to some of the second worst sack allowed total by a Power Five team with 27. The offensive line has been poor in pass protection and has been the main culprit for that sack total and will have their hands full against a good NC State line. If Francois has time to throw the ball, he has a couple of good tight ends and some emerging threats on the outside in Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate to go along with veterans Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield.
NC State’s pass defense is rated 25th by S&P+. The Wolfpack is 55th in the nation in passing efficiency defense and 46th in the nation giving up 6.8 yards per attempt. NC State is also 97th in the nation giving up a completion percentage of 61.8 percent. They have only faced two good passing attacks in Clemson and Louisville and both torched the Wolfpack. NC State does get after the quarterback, though, with 24 sacks on the year. A sack in every game this season, they have multiple sacks in the last six games. Defensive ends Chubb, Roseboro, and Street have combined for 15.5 of the sacks.
This is a mixed bag as the NC State line has the advantage over FSU in the trenches, but if given time the Francois and the Nole wideouts can have success against the NC State secondary.
|NC State Run Game vs FSU Defense
Florida State has the 43rd rated rush defense in the nation by S&P+. Outside of back-to-back games against Louisville and South Florida, the Florida State defense has been really good against the run giving up 4.16 yards per rush or less in the other 6 games. The common theme with Louisville and South Florida is a speedy, dynamic quarterback that runs the zone read really well. Against NC State they won’t have to worry about that as much. Derrick Nnadi has rounded into form after being slowed by injury and started dominating the middle like he was expected to do this year. Dontavious Jackson has also brought some aggressive physical play from the linebacker position as well.
NC State is rated 32nd in rush offense by S&P+. The Wolfpack is averaging just 3.91 yards per carry, though, which is 99th in the country. Matthew Dayes is the leading rusher with 727 yards on a 5.05 yards per carry average. Dayes has five 100+ yard games this year, but has been held in check the last two weeks combining for just 58 yards on 2.41 yards per carry. He has seven times the number of carries as the next RB and as Dayes goes so goes the NC State rushing attack.
This is a good matchup for a Florida State team that has had success against this style of offense.
|NC State Pass Game vs FSU Defense
Florida State’s pass defense is rated 37th in the nation by S&P+. The Noles are 89th in the country in pass efficiency defense and 113th while giving up 8.4 yards per attempt allowed. What they are doing well is picking off passes as they have a nation’s 13th best 11 interceptions. They also get after the quarterback well with 28 sacks, tied for 8th best in the nation. The reason their S&P+ rating is so high despite those poor raw statistics is that they’ve faced quite a slew of excellent quarterbacks and passing attacks. They will be without Trey Marshall for the first half in Raleigh and that has proven to be a big deal. With Marshall in the game against Clemson, for example, the Tigers potent attack was held to under 8 yards per attempt, but after his ejection they gave up 13.3 yards per attempt.
NC State has the 48th passing attack per S&P+. They average 7.7 yards per attempt, 51st in the nation, and are ranked 53rd in the nation is passing efficiency. Against the three most difficult defenses the Wolfpack has faced they have struggled to complete 50% of their passes. However, they’ve had an explosive passing attack averaging over 12 yards per catch. Stephen Louis is the most explosive of the bunch averaging a hair over 20 yards per catch, which is good for 8th highest in the country for guys with 20 or more catches. The Wolfpack also feature the tight end a lot as Jaylen Samuels leads the team with 34 catches. The NC State offensive line has been good in pass protection allowing just 12 sacks.
I know the Florida State pass defense has drawn the ire of fans, but they’ve improved over the course of the year and made some lineup adjustments that’s helped solidify the secondary some. As much as you can solidify despite missing two starters to injuries, that is. The Noles have gotten more from their defensive line and I think the combination of Nnadi in the middle with Demarcus Walker and Josh Sweat on the outside will have success.
For whatever reason, teams have places that they just struggle despite often having a talent advantage. Miami, even in during some of their higher times, has always struggled in Chestnut Hill against Boston College. In Florida State’s case, playing in Raleigh against NC State has consistently given Florida State nightmares. Despite this being a good matchup theoretically for Florida State, with the exception of FSU’s offensive line against NC State’s defensive line, NC State is going to give FSU all they can handle and keep this close. It would behoove the Noles to try and get off to a better start, something that they have not shown the ability to do this year. Falling behind early at Carter Finley Stadium at night just has bad news written all over it. I think this game is ugly in the first half and close throughout before FSU scores in the fourth quarter to win by double digits.