It’s simple: Florida State has the finest defensive line in the entire nation. It is replete with blue-chip, NFL-bound talent at every level on the depth chart, and N. C. State’s offensive line is not a formidable unit.
When the Wolfpack front lines up against Cornelius “Tank” Carradine, Anthony “Amp” McCloud, Everett Dawkins and Bjoern Werner, they are going to have no chance of controlling the line of scrimmage, which is very key to their offense.
It doesn’t end there. When FSU brings in its second- and third-string defensive linemen, the Wolfpack will still have very little chance of controlling the trenches.
The Wolfpack have been porous on the recruiting trails during their time under head coach Tom O’Brien, and they will be without three starters on the offensive line. It’s a patchwork unit that has had to shift players around all year. They have done an admirable job.
But they are encountering greatness on Saturday. FSU’s defensive line is a violent, no-nonsense unit that lines up on the field with bad intentions. They don’t want to just win football games—they want to dominate you and crush your will.
Considering N.C. State runs a pro-style system with an immobile quarterback, this is its chance to shine ever brighter. Against teams like Clemson, Wake Forest and South Florida, the Seminole front had to contend with gimmicky formations run by mobile quarterbacks.
Not on Saturday—and it’s why they will feast.
Florida State shutout N.C. State 34-0 last year, and Florida State is a better team this year. It has arguably the finest backfield in the country—two Heisman contenders in EJ Manuel and Chris Thompson—a healthy (and improved) offensive line, a stable of receivers and a defense with 5-star recruits buried on the depth chart.
It’s the perfect storm for FSU.
People still doubt if this team is for real and if it “is back.” The Seminoles have cruised to a 5-0 record, but they are being reminded of the Lost Decade. The Wolfpack have won four of their last seven games at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Wolfpack have won six of the last 14 in this series. The one-liners are endless.
But this 2012 Tribe has arrived. It’s ready for the gauntlet.
FSU will win—and win big—because its defense will control the game and give EJ Manuel and company plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns.