NC State (6-3) vs. Florida State (7-2) 12:30 pm
Florida State is 3-2 against the Wolfpack since 2010 and have won those games by an average of 27.2 points per game. Last season, NC State jumped out to a big lead 24-3 before the Seminoles came back in the second half to win 56-41.
The Wolfpack are coming off of a solid road performance last week in Chesnut Hill beating Boston College 24-6. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for two touchdowns as the offense was able to move the ball vertically on a tough Eagles defense. On the season, NC State is averaging 34.6 points per game and has a very balanced offensive attack that is rushing for 194 yards per game and passing for 207 yards per game. Brissett has big game experience and has made solid decisions all season long. He is completing 64% of his passes for 1,798 yards with 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and has shown great leadership in directing the offense this season. Brissett has a strong arm that can attack the Seminoles vertically on Saturday and look for the Wolfpack to show different formations early on in the game to force the Florida State secondary to make the proper reads. Brissett must be able to throw underneath coverage into the middle of the field against the Seminoles. NC State uses a variation of the Clemson offense and last week on a wet field the Seminoles gave up over 500 total yards to the Tigers. Wide receivers Jumichael Ramos and Bra’Lon Cherry have combined for 36 receptions for 494 yards with 2 scores. Tight end Jaylen Samuels (240 rushing yards 7 TD’s/49 receptions 467 yards 5 TD’s) is a hybrid player that create mismatches against the Seminoles defense. He is utilized on fly sweeps off tackle and has the speed to catch the perimeter of the defense. With the absence of starting running back Matthew Dayes (out for year toe injury) , look for running back Dakwa Nichols (77 yards 4.2 yards per carry) to step up and make plays in the running game.
The Wolfpack boast an underrated defense that is allowing 19.7 points per game and is coming off of a 7 sack performance last week in the victory over Boston College. Defensive end Mike Rose leads a quick and speedy front seven that is allowing 113 rushing yards per game along with giving up 183 passing yards to their opponents. Rose leads the team with 9.5 sacks and is very strong at the point of attack. On the year, the Wolfpack have recorded 28 sacks and played very disciplined last week on the road in pass coverage. In order to get the road upset, the defense must force Seminoles quarterback Sean Maguire to beat them over the top. Florida State’s offense has revolved mostly around Dalvin Cook and it will be critical for the Wolfpack force the tempo from a defensive perspective in this match up. NC State must be able to contain the Seminoles rushing attack and force the Seminoles offense into passing situations which will allow the Wolfpack to blitz to get pressure on Maguire. Linebacker Airius Moore is a fast player that is very solid in run support and leads the team with 52 total tackles. Turnovers will be critical in this game and NC State has done a good job of winning the turnover battle consistently. The Wolfpack are +4 in turnover margin and are +5 in turnover margin on the road.
Florida State stood toe to toe with the Clemson Tigers last Saturday in Death Valley tied 13-13 entering the fourth quarter, however, the inability for the offense to make plays down the stretch cost the Seminoles the win. Quarterback Sean Maguire got the start over Everett Golson and played well early on in the game. Maguire finished the game completing 55% of his passes for 167 yards with one interception. The Seminoles are averaging 30.6 points per game and are rushing for 182 yards per game along with passing for 250 yards per game. Maguire has completed 63.9% of his passes for 585 yards with 4 touchdowns and one interception. Maguire has stepped up in the last two games and has shown maturity in running the offense this season. Running back Dalvin Cook has had an excellent season and leads the team with 1,231 yards averaging 8.3 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. Cook has breakaway speed and has shown the ability to carry his team in big games. Last week, Cook exploded on the first series on a 79 touchdown run that opened up the scoring for the offense in Death Valley. Florida State will look to get the ball into Cook’s hands on toss sweeps and off tackle runs that can allow Cook to utilize his speed on one on one match-ups. Cook is very difficult to bring down with one tackler and has shown the ability to make yards after contact. Florida State will want to run early on to establish Cook and then to work off of play action with Maguire over the deep middle of the field. Wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Kermit Whitfield are players that have the speed to challenge the Wolfpack secondary deep. Both players have combined for 81 receptions for 1,069 yards with 8 touchdowns. In order for Florida State to win the game, they must be able to be patient in the running game and must involve Cook in the screen game to neutralize the Wolfpack pass rush.
The Seminoles played very well defensively last week against the Tigers and made plays in the red zone to force Clemson to field goals. On the year, Florida State is allowing 17.4 points per game and giving up 147 rushing yards per game. The Seminoles are + 7 in turnover margin and will look to force mistakes by Brissett in the passing game. Florida State is yielding 196 passing yards per game and at home the defense is surrendering 227 passing yards per game. The Seminoles cannot allow Brissett to survey the field and locate his receivers this weekend. Florida State must be able to generate a pass rush and force Brissett into quick throws underneath coverage. The unit has recorded 20 sacks through the first nine games and has only forced 6 interceptions in the secondary. Linebacker Reggie Northrup is the emotional leader of the defense and is first on the team with 69 total tackles.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor atwww.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
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