Since 2011, Florida State has won 4 of the last five games by an average margin of victory of 24.5 points per game. N.C State last won in 2012, by a score of 17-16 in Raleigh. Florida State has not lost back to back games since 2011 (Clemson and Wake Forest).
The Seminoles enter this game averaging 34 points per game and are rushing for 206 yards per game on the ground along with passing for 273 yards per game through the air this season.
Quarterback Deondre Francois has shown glimpses of greatness in his first season as Seminoles signal caller. On the year, he has completed 60% of his passes for 2,162 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Francois has shown the ability to stretch opposing secondaries vertically when he has the time, however, on blitzes he sometimes holds the football too long in locating the “hot” routes.
The offensive line has broken down at critical junctures in games and must be able to protect Francois in this game in order to pull out the road win. On the year, the offensive line has allowed 27 sacks and gave up 6 sacks in last week’s 34-31 loss to the Clemson Tigers.
Running back Dalvin Cook will be counted on to carry the offense on the road in Raleigh this Saturday. Last week, Cook broke out for a four touchdown performance on the national stage, but has failed to show consistency each and every week this year. In 2015, Cook rushed for 1,693 yards averaging 7.3 yards per carry with 19 touchdowns. Entering this game, he has rushed for 1,061 yards averaging 6.0 yards per carry with 11 scores.
Wide receiver Travis Rudolph leads the team with 560 receiving yards on 35 receptions with 3 touchdowns. Jesus Wilson is battling injury and is questionable for this game. Without Wilson, the Wolfpack can double-team Rudolph and force Francois to make his reads and progressions in locating his second/third options in the passing game.
Defensively, the Seminoles are allowing 29 points per game and are giving up 251 passing yards to opposing offenses this year. The front seven has done an excellent job at creating pressures (8 games 28 total sacks), however, they have broken down in being able to shut down the run consistently week to week.
Entering this game against N.C State, the defense is allowing 152 rushing yards per game and is holding opposing offenses to 39% conversions on their third down attempts.
Florida State will need to create turnovers on the road and is +7 in turnover margin on the year.
The Wolfpack are coming off of a disappointing home loss to Boston College on Homecoming 21-14. N.C State is averaging 26 points per game and has been a very pass heavy offense this year averaging 255 yards per game through the air in 2016.
Quarterback Ryan Finley has played very well in the offensive scheme and has completed 61% of his passes for 1,815 yards with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Finley is an accurate passer that is not afraid to stay in the pocket to deliver the football to his wide receivers.
N.C State will need to run the football in order to work off of play action to neutralize the Seminoles pass rush on Saturday night. The offense is averaging 145 rushing yards per game and has a very underrated back in Matthew Dayes that leads the team with 727 rushing yards averaging 5.0 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns. Dayes is not afraid to run between the tackles and look for N.C State to run the Seminoles defense sideline to sideline on fly sweeps to wear them down in this game.
Hybrid tight end/running Jaylen Samuels will also be utilized and has rushed for 102 yards with three scores this year.
Wide receiver Stephen Louis is Finley’s go to target in the passing game and leads the team with 21 receptions for 422 yards with one score. N.C State should challenge the Seminoles secondary on early downs to give Finley confidence and to keep the Florida State defense guessing at all times.
The offensive line has played very well and has yielded 12 sacks through the first 8 games of the year. N.C State is converting 40% of their third down attempts and must stay in third and short situations to take the pressure off of Finley from carrying the team.
Defensively, the Wolfpack are giving up 23 points per game and are very solid in run support giving up 112 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses.
N.C State enters this game with 24 total sacks and will look to bring pressure early on to force the Florida State offensive line to protect Francois. N.C State is +2 in turnover margin and will need to mix up coverages to force Francois to make quick decisions in the passing game.
The Wolfpack are allowing 241 passing yards per game and will want to force the Seminoles to methodically work down the field to make plays (Wake Forest vs. FSU). N.C State has done a solid job on third downs and has held opposing offenses to 34% of their third down attempts.
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