Last week, Florida State arrived as one of the nation's best teams with a 51-14 victory over Clemson.
While going to Clemson and downing the Tigers in such a dominant fashion in front of over 80,000 hostile fans is great, Florida State faces a bigger test against NC State this weekend.
It was just a year ago the Wolfpack downed the No. 3 Seminoles for a major upset. In fact, as News & Observer illustrates, the Wolfpack absolutely dominate the Seminoles when Florida State touts an impressive rank: of
The past four times the teams have played when Florida State was ranked, the Wolfpack has won. N.C. State beat the No. 3 Seminoles last year, 17-16 in Raleigh; No. 16 Florida State in 2010, 28-24 in Raleigh; No. 17 Florida State in 2006, 24-20 in Raleigh, and the No. 9 Seminoles in 2005, 20-15 in Tallahassee.
So, no, when NC State comes to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, the outcome will be far from a given. Here's how Florida State can avoid the shocking letdown fans are accustomed to seeing against a familiar foe.
Contain Brandon Mitchell and Bryan Underwood
The Seminoles enter the game against NC State with a bit of a disadvantage as there is not much film to study in order to properly prepare for Wolfpack quarterback Brandon Mitchell. As WRAL-TV's Erin Summers reports, Mitchell is officially a go for the game:
There's little to go by in terms of prep for Mitchell outside of his 3-of-3 passing for 93 yards in the team's opener. The senior is also a major threat on the ground thanks to his superb athleticism.
Junior receiver Bryan Underwood is the team's best weapon outside of Mitchell. He has racked up 357 yards and a touchdown, with an additional 112 rushing yards on the ground. The 5'9" and 177-pound speedster is elusive in the open field and can score from any point on the field.
All in all, the Wolfpack will be firing on all cylinders at just the right time. The Seminoles allow 12.3 points per game and beat a tough Clemson squad last week, but NC State should not be taken lightly.
Take Care of the Football
It's a basic fundamental of successful football, but the Seminoles must be extra careful against the Wolfpack.
NC State has forced 12 turnovers in six games this year, including nine in its three victories. While the Seminoles have turned the ball over just four times this season, it would be a sign the Wolfpack are in a good position to pull off an upset if Florida State were to turn the ball over early or multiple times.
Using this approach, the Wolfpack surrender just over 21 points per game.
An opportunistic defense is a live-or-die approach for NC State, but the gambles will pay major dividends if Florida State gets sloppy after a big win or falls victim to the next point.
Trust in Jameis and Do Not Look Ahead
Outside of the historical implications outlined above, much of why the contest against NC State is such a trap game for the Seminoles is because it is neatly sandwiched between Clemson and No. 7 Miami (FL).
Like any team full of humans under the helmets and pads, the youngsters on the Seminoles' roster are susceptible to overlooking the current game on the schedule with eyes on a bigger contest.
The battle with Miami not only has major ACC implications, it will drastically impact the national title picture and is obviously a fierce in-state rivalry.
Fortunately for Florida State, all the team really needs to do is give the ball to their freshman signal-caller and Heisman candidate Jameis Winston.
So far, Winston has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 1,885 yards, 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Winston does not turn the ball over and was in no way fazed in a hostile environment against Clemson as he threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns.
With Winston under center, the Seminoles have a great shot at avoiding the upset.
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