The Demon Deacons had worked their way into the AP Poll at No. 19 before allowing 520 yards in a 62-59 loss to Louisville last week at BB&T Field. The Seminoles had won two straight before getting crushed at Clemson, 45-14.
Wake comes in with a 5-1 record and looks to become bowl eligible, while the 3-3 Seminoles aim to get back over .500. FSU won 38-17 in last season’s contest in Tallahassee and has taken seven straight in the series, but the last two meetings in Winston-Salem weren’t decided until the final minute.
Florida State at Wake Forest
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Wake Forest -2.5
When Florida State Has the Ball
It remains unclear who will start behind center for Florida State on Saturday night. James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook each saw time for the Seminoles last week, and the difference between the two seems to be razor-thin. Whoever gets the start will be playing behind an offensive line that is one of the worst in the ACC.
FSU is strong at the skill positions with running back Cam Akers being the most notable player. Akers leads the team with 616 yards rushing and is tied for the conference lead with nine total touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tamorrion Terry leads the Seminoles with 467 receiving yards and five touchdown grabs. However, they will be without second-leading receiver Keyshawn Helton for the remainder of the season.
The Demon Deacons aren’t great defensively, but prior to last week, they had done a decent job of bending without breaking. Up front, redshirt junior defensive end Carlos Basham leads the ACC in tackles for a loss (9.5) and the team in sacks (4.5). With 62 total stops, senior linebacker Justin Strnad is the second-leading tackler in the ACC.
Wake Forest has been susceptible to the big play in the passing game but also remains opportunistic. Senior Amari Henderson is the best cover man it has, and he leads the team with a pair of interceptions. Sophomore safety Nasir Greer is a hard hitter and has a pair of forced fumbles this season to go with 33 tackles.
When Wake Forest Has the Ball
The question for Wake Forest coming into Saturday night will be the health of quarterback Jamie Newman. Newman left last week’s loss to Louisville with a shoulder injury. He leads the ACC in passing yards, touchdown passes and passer rating, but if he is unable to go, sophomore Sam Hartman is experienced. Hartman played well in relief last week against the Cardinals and was the starter last year against FSU, although he struggled.
Freshman Kenneth Walker III leads the Demon Deacons with 328 yards rushing on nearly nine yards per carry, but most of that damage came against Rice, North Carolina, and Elon. In ACC games, he has just six carries for 18 yards. At wide receiver, Sage Surratt is the guy to watch. Surratt leads the ACC with 711 yards receiving and is tied with Akers for the conference lead in total touchdowns with nine. Scotty Washington is also very good out wide. Up front, the Demon Deacons start three seniors.
The strength for Florida State on defense is probably the defensive line. Marvin Wilson and Cory Durden are a stout duo at defensive tackle, and edge rusher Janarius Robinson is coming off a contest in which he had four tackles for loss in just one half. The Seminoles have lost some key players in recent weeks in Jaiden Lars-Woodbey and Joshua Kaindoh.
The Seminoles haven’t been great in the secondary, but there is a ton of depth and talent. Junior safety Hamsah Nasirildeen leads FSU with 39 total tackles and leads the ACC with three forced fumbles. He had his first interception of the season last week. Stanford Samuels, a junior, had an interception in last season’s win over the Demon Deacons. Among ACC teams, only Boston College has forced more turnovers than the Seminoles.
Given the woes of both defenses recently, there is a decent chance that Saturday’s contest could be a shootout. If Newman is unable to play, things do become much more difficult for Wake Forest. Where the Demon Deacons may have an advantage is up front; they have players who can make things difficult for FSU’s poor offensive line. When the teams met at BB&T Field two years ago, Wake Forest recorded 17 tackles for loss.
Prediction: Wake Forest 34, Florida State 31
(Top photo courtesy of godeacs.com)