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NC State (4-3) at Florida State (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 29th, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Doak Campbell Stadium (80,000) -- Tallahassee, Florida. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: NC State 3-1, Florida State 3-1. Away Record: NC State 1-2, Florida State 1-2. Neutral Record: NC State 0-0, Florida State 0-0. Conference Record: NC State 1-2, Florida State 2-2. Series Record: Florida State leads, 21-10.
GAME NOTES: The NC State Wolfpack will travel to Tallahassee this weekend for an ACC clash with the Florida State Seminoles, who have won two straight games.
NC State picked up its first road win of the season last weekend against Virginia, and it was an important one, too. It marked the second consecutive win for the Wolfpack, and put the program in position to qualify for a bowl should it win two of its last five games. NC State will host in-state rival North Carolina next weekend.
Florida State has won two straight games by identical 41-16 scores over Duke and Maryland, recovering from a early season stretch that featured a three- game losing streak from the Seminoles. Quarterback E.J. Manuel has come on as of late, and Florida State's defense is elite. Those two components seem to have the Seminoles primed for a legitimate run in the ACC race coming down the stretch, although North Carolina State will be no pushover on the road.
Florida State leads the all-time series with NC State, 21-10, although the Wolfpack won 28-24 last season.
At the heart of NC State's two game winning streak has been balanced and effective play from the backfield. Quarterback Mike Glennon threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Central Michigan, and despite throwing two interceptions last weekend against Virginia, still posted 231 yards and three touchdowns. His performances were complemented by study play from running back James Washington, who has carried 50 times for 191 yards and one touchdown the past two weeks.
Glennon, who has thrown for 1,717 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, leads an offense that is averaging 370.5 yards and 31.4 points per game this season. Washington is seventh in the ACC in rushing with 70.1 yards per game, and also leads the team in receptions with 24. T.J. Graham is NC State's x-factor; he leads the country in all-purpose yards with 185.7 yards per game. Graham has caught 23 passes for 492 yards and four touchdowns this season, and has eight punt returns for 148 yards and one touchdown. NC State is fifth in the country in punt returns, with 17.1 yards per return.
The NC State defense came up large last weekend in the win over Virginia, which gashed Georgia Tech with its running game the week before in an upset win over the Yellow Jackets. The Wolfpack surrendered just 124 yards on 33 carries, and held quarterbacks Michael Rocco and David Watford to a combined 11-of-35 for 125 yards, with two touchdowns overshadowed by three interceptions. Two of those interceptions came from David Amerson, who sealed the win by returning one of the picks 12 yards for a touchdown with just 6:08 remaining to extend the lead to 28-14. Amerson leads the country with eight interceptions, and NC State is seventh in the turnover margin. The defense has recorded 22 takeaways, 15 of which have been interceptions. Overall, NC State allows 388.8 yards per game, with 165.4 yards coming on the ground and 223.4 yards through the air. NC State is ranked third in the ACC with 18 sacks, led by Darryl Bishop-Cato's three.
Manuel has helped Florida State light up the scoreboard against Duke and Maryland, looking more and more comfortable after missing time earlier this season due to injury. Manuel threw just 14 passes against the Blue Devils, but still accumulated 239 yards and two touchdowns; against Maryland he was more methodical, completing 18-of-26 passes for one touchdown and one interception in the rout. Where he has really done the damage in those two games, however, is with his feet. Manuel has 96 yards rushing and three touchdowns the past two games, and Florida State has rushed for 218 and 242 yards as a team in those games, respectively. Devonta Freeman gets a bulk of the carries at running back, and although he averages just 47 yards per game and has only three touchdowns this season, has rushed for 100 and 109 yards in the last two games with a touchdown in each win.
Manuel is second in the ACC in total offense (264.5), and 20th in the nation in passing efficiency (153.08). He has thrown for 1,455 yards and 11 touchdowns against seven interceptions, and his top target has been Rodney Smith, who averages 3.5 catches and 64.2 yards per game. Florida State is 14th in the country in passing offense (304.2) and 24th in scoring offense (35.8).
Florida State leads the ACC in total defense, allowing just 291.2 yards per game. The Seminoles have turned in two quality outings the past two weeks against Duke and Maryland, especially on the ground. The Blue Devils registered just 63 yards rushing, while Maryland had 59. Florida State is sixth in the country in rush defense (82.8), fourth in sacks per game (3.5) and third in tackles for loss per game (8.4). Bjoern Werner is second in the ACC in sacks with six, and Brandon Jenkins has chipped in 3.5. Florida State is one of the worst in the country in turnover ratio (115th), and have just six takeaways this season despite all the pressure.
Florida State is the better team, with a dynamic all-purpose quarterback and a defense that will likely be problematic for Glennon and company. NC State will be a tougher challenge for the Seminoles than Duke and Maryland, however. The Wolfpack defense is on the rise and Graham is a player that can make things happen in the return game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 38, NC State 17
10/26 11:31:44 ET