Florida State is coming off a nice victory against BYU and a total rebound from the defeat Oklahoma issued to them. Now the 'Noles will set their sights on a more recent rival; Wake Forest. FSU has lost three of its past four to the Demon Deacons, with last year's win breaking Wake Forest's three game winning streak. What will be the result of the 2010 matchup?
Wake Forest started its season with wins against Presbyterian and Duke, scoring over 50 points in both game before being blown out by Stanford last week 68-24. That doesn't mean this will be an easy victory for Florida State.
Wake Forest had to replace arguably its best player ever in quarterback Riley Skinner. Tanner Price has taken over and has played well in three games with last week being the exception. He has 270 yards passing and 138 yards rushing with five total touchdowns. The Demon Deacons have three reliable players that all have over 100 yards rushing in Ted Stachitas, Josh Harris and Devon Brown. Their top route runner is Chris Givens, who has 208 yards receiving on the season.
The Demon Deacons can put up points easily, but they will have fits with this Florida State defense. FSU's defense started off the season with a stellar performance against Samford and then got dismantled against Oklahoma. Last week it appeared they had finally found their groove, especially with its pass rush; the defense recorded eight sacks against BYU last week. The secondary seemed to be getting a grasp on the new zone defense and the defense as a whole looked impressive.
On the offensive side of the ball, running backs Ty Jones and Chris Thompson provided a massive spark, combining to rush for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offense finished with 278 yards rushing, something they haven't accomplished in years.
Then there's the passing game. During the off-season, almost every analyst in the country had something to say about Christian Ponder, especially regarding his Heisman chances. Ponder has been predicted as a first round draft choice, an All-American candidate, pre-season ACC Player of the Year and a potential Heisman candidate. The list goes on and on, but his season has started off rocky. After a great first half performance against Samford, he regressed against Oklahoma and took much of the blame on his shoulders. So it came to a surprise when he struggled last week finishing with a mere 149 yards passing and a touchdown. It wasn't that the numbers were low, it was the fact that Ponder just doesn't look like himself.
Last season he averaged 320 yards a game. He hasn't even begun to approach those numbers yet this season, but he is still the unquestioned leader of this team. Ponder will need to regain his confidence for FSU to be successful.
If the Florida State defense shows up the way they did last week, and if Ponder can finally perform up to what he is capable of, the 'Noles should handle Wake Forest with ease. The key word in that sentence is should.