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FSU at NC State: Keys to victory, predictions

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Florida State (2-5, 1-5 ACC) enters its game on Saturday night at NC State (4-3, 4-3) as a 10-point underdog. The game will be televised by the ACC Network with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wes Durham and Roddy Jones will call the game.

Storylines

The Seminoles will be without a number of players due to injuries, including defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and offensive tackle Devontay Love-Taylor (they will miss the remainder of the 2020 season). FSU coach Mike Norvell also announced on Wednesday that wide receiver Tamorrion Terry, the team’s leading receiver, was no longer a part of the football program. He also announced quarterback James Blackman would sit out the remainder of the season and will transfer from FSU.

There are several players whose availability for the game due to injury were still unknown as of Norvell’s last appearance with the media on Wednesday of this week. That list includes quarterback Jordan Travis and safeties Renardo Green, Travis Jay and Hamsah Nasirildeen.

FSU is looking to avoid a three-game losing streak after back-to-back losses Louisville and Pitt.

Keys to an FSU win

Shorten the Game/Limit NC State’s Offensive Possessions

NC State has a big-play offense and FSU has struggled to stop opposing teams from making big plays, therefore it is important for the Seminoles to control the ball and the clock and limit the number of possessions the Wolfpack have with the ball. The Seminoles need to and should find success running the ball against NC State, which ranks 76th in the country against the run (allowing 183 yards per game). And you will not confuse the Wolfpack defensive front seven with the one the Seminoles faced against Pitt. FSU is averaging 177 yards on the ground per game against their ACC opponent this season and I think it will have to exceed that average if the Seminoles are to pull off the upset Saturday night.

Defense must Limit Big Plays in the Passing Game

NC State is solid but not dynamic on offense. The Wolfpack struggle to run the ball consistently, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Where they have made a living this season is with big plays in the passing game, an area where FSU has struggled this year. The Wolfpack have produced 74 pass plays this season of over 10-plus yards, which ranks 19th in the country. They have also produced 33 plays in the passing game of over 20 yards, which ranks 8th in the country. They rank ninth in producing pass plays of over 30 yards with 17. FSU on the other hand ranks 101st in giving up passing plays of over 10 yards (69), 113th in giving up pass plays of over 20 yards (28) and 111th in giving up pass plays of over 30 yards (15). FSU must have its best game of the year in limiting big pass plays by the Wolfpack — and the offense must controll the clock and the ball.

Red Zone Defense

NC State is liable to have success moving the ball between the 20s against FSU. The Seminoles need to make sure they hold NC State to more field goals than touchdowns when the Wolfpack get in the red zone.

Show Resolve

Coming off back-to-back losses, and the news that it would be without three players who were being counted on heavily to produce this season, can this team show its resolve and that it is mentally tougher than it was earlier in the season? If Travis is sidelined can either one or both of the true freshmen quarterbacks play with poise? Will they respond to the challenge of facing adversity in the game given the two-game losing streak and loss of players it felt like were leaders of this team coming into the season? The answer to all these questions needs to be yes on Saturday night.

Predictions

Patrick Burnham – NC State 37, FSU 27

Bob Ferrante – NC State 34, FSU 24

Jerry Kutz – NC State 31, FSU 17

Mark Salva – NC State 42, FSU 10