Florida State went from National Championship contender to fringe Top-25 candidate in one month and is still looking for its first win. The 25th-ranked Seminoles will try to find their way into the win column when they visit undefeated Wake Forest on Saturday.
Florida State lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the rest of the season in the opening loss to Alabama and was encouraged by the starting debut of freshman James Blackmon in last week’s 27-21 home loss to North Carolina State. “As far as the passing game, handling the blitz, making decisions where to go with the ball, (he) was really good in the game,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters. “Going to the right guy for the right reasons in the right coverage. Some (run-pass options), he made really good throws and decisions and had some big plays on it.” The Demon Deacons are ready to step into Florida State’s spot atop the ACC and outscored opponents by an average of 26.3 points in their first four contests. “We’re better up front. We’re playing well at quarterback. We’re also better on the perimeter, but this is Florida State,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson told reporters. “There are certain matchups that should be favorable, but because of their personnel and how quick they are and how well they cover, you have to win matchups against these guys. That is the challenge.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Florida State -7.5
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (0-2, 0-1 ACC): Blackmon isn’t the only freshman in the Seminoles’ backfield, and he could use more help from first-year running back Cam Akers. Akers leads the team with a total of 85 yards and Florida State is averaging just 2.7 yards on a combined 53 rushing attempts this season. The Seminoles, who had their season interrupted by Hurricane Irma and already had two games cancelled or postponed, are struggling to find a rhythm on offense and reached the end zone in just two of eight trips into the red zone.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (4-0, 1-0): Senior quarterback John Wolford is looking for his first win over Florida State and comes into his final matchup with eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the first four games of 2017. The Jacksonville, Fla., native also leads the team in rushing with 269 yards and three scores and is hoping for a better showing after completing 16-of-34 passes for 184 yards and two interceptions in a 17-6 loss at the Seminoles last season. The Demon Deacons dominated their first three opponents, including a 34-10 win at Boston College in the ACC opener on Sept. 9, but needed to fight to earn a 20-19 victory at Appalachian State last week.
1. Florida State WR Auden Tate (shoulder) and LB Matthew Thomas (back) are both questionable after leaving last week’s game.
2. Demon Deacons freshman WR Greg Dortch made a TD catch in each of the first four games.
3. The Seminoles are winners of five straight in the series.
PREDICTION: Florida State 24, Wake Forest 17