The Wolfpacker predictions: NC State at Florida State

Matt Carter and Jacey Zembal, TheWolfpacker.com
The Wolfpacker
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Ken Martin/The Wolfpacker

Saturday, when NC State travels to No. 12 Florida State for a noon kickoff in Tallahassee, Fla., offers another opportunity for the Wolfpack to get that statement win that has eluded it over the past few seasons

The Wolfpacker editors Matt Carter and Jacey Zembal offer their predictions on how the game will turn out:

Matt Carter

This is truly a unique setup for a college football game. Florida State opened its season playing a competitive game with No. 1 Alabama until special teams miscues did it in. Since then FSU has been watching, literally. Hurricane Irma forced the cancellation of its week two contest against Louisiana-Monroe and the postponement of its Sept. 16 contest versus Miami.

Meanwhile, NC State has three games under its belt. There are two schools of thoughts of how this could play out. One is that FSU, breaking in a true freshman quarterback in James Blackman for injured redshirt sophomore DeAndre Francois, could have used some games to break in its new signal-caller, and that there will be rust from having not played in three weeks.

The other is that FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher has essentially had a second preseason camp to iron out the mistakes from Alabama and mold an offense to make Blackman comfortable while working extensively on a game plan to prepare for NC State with a well-rested, healthy squad.

The Raleigh News and Observer’s Joe Giglio’s Law of the Wolf will tell NC State fans which of the two scenarios is more likely to play. (Hint: It’s not the first one.)

I think this game will be more competitive than the Las Vegas line of nearly a two-touchdown advantage for the home team indicates. A year ago, for all the talk of the missed opportunity at Clemson, NC State probably played a better game at home against FSU. It outgained the Noles 469-393 in total yards, and Florida State never had a lead until 3:09 left in the game before prevailing 24-20.

This is a better Florida State team than the one that went to Raleigh, but NC State should also be better. But in true NC State fashion, it also has the feel of a star being born (in this case Blackman) at the end of the game against Florida State.

Prediction: Florida State 24, NC State 17

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Jacey Zembal

Florida State’s layoff has been a big story line, but it hasn’t exactly been like fall camp or a lead up to a bowl game.

The Seminoles have had a disjointed dance of preparing for Louisiana-Monroe and then not playing them. Then preparing for Miami (Fla.) and having a delay in playing them. FSU did get extra time, though, and that will be a major advantage.

The Seminoles fell 24-7 in a sloppy effort versus Alabama Sept. 2. FSU only has one senior on offense and five on defense, and the team’s timing is off. Add in shaky issues on special teams and new freshman quarterback James Blackman, and the Seminoles are vulnerable.

That being said, Florida State has a considerable amount of talent, especially on defense. Alabama had a hard time scoring against FSU, with 11 points coming off of Seminoles mistakes in the third quarter. Like most games, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes will probably win.

With a healthy Deondre Francois, the Seminoles would have too much firepower, but with his season-ending injury this game feels like a rare gift for the Wolfpack. NC State will get its chance to make up for losing to South Carolina in the season opener, with a narrow victory against Florida State.

Prediction: NC State 20, Florida State 17

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