The 2015 season has been a little different for the Florida State Seminoles. Unlike the previous three seasons, the Seminoles will not win the ACC championship after losing to the Clemson Tigers 23-13 last weekend. With the win, Clemson clinched the ACC Atlantic Division for the first time since the 2011 season.
Florida State (7-2, 5-2 in the ACC) will look to snap back as the team will return home to Doak Campbell Stadium to host the NC State Wolfpack on Saturday.
In its last game, NC State (6-3, 2-3) defeated the Boston College Eagles 24-8 in Chestnut Hill behind 212 yards from quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Florida State is 24-11 all-time against NC State, including 14-4 at home. The Seminoles have won two straight in the series and they have not lost at home to the Wolfpack since the 2005 season.
NC State at Florida State
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ACC Network/ESPN3
Spread: Florida State -9.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Everett Golson
On Thursday, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher named redshirt senior Everett Golson the team's starting quarterback for Saturday's game against NC State. Golson did not play in the Seminoles last two games against Syracuse and Clemson.
In seven starts this season, he has thrown for 1,659 yards, 11 touchdowns against only one interception. Fisher thought Golson did enough in practice this week to get this week's start.
“The quarterback situation has been good,” Fisher said. “I’ve been pleased. We’ll start Everett. He had a real good week of practice and I liked what he did.”
2. NC State running game
NC State leading rusher Matthew Dayes injured his foot against Clemson on Nov. 1 and is out for the rest of the season. Without Dayes last week against Boston College, the Wolfpack were able to record a combined 139 rushing yards on 33 carries.
This week, the Wolfpack will face a Seminole rushing defense that has been very good minus last week’s game against the Tigers. Florida State gave up 215 yards and a rushing touchdown to Clemson.
Jimbo Fisher has an explanation for the way the Florida State defense played last week.
“I thought we tackled well,” said Fisher. (Defense) played the inside runs very well. I think we got out our gaps because, as they were running past us with quarterback draws in the quarterback run game, got us a little bit.”
It will be interesting to see if NC State can have success running the ball on Florida State much like Clemson did. The Wolfpack also have a mobile quarterback in Brissett that can keep the Seminole defense on its heels.
3. Dalvin Cook
In eight games this season, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook has rushed for 1,231 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is averaging 153.9 yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry.
With just 13 yards on Saturday, Cook will break Florida State’s single-season rushing record, which is held by former great Warrick Dunn. In 1995, Dunn rushed for 1,242 yards on 166 carries, which broke Sammie Smith's record of 1,230 yards.
After dealing with a number of injuries this season, Fisher said Cook is as sharp as he has been all season.
“Probably as healthy as he's been all year, maybe since the first of the year," said Fisher. "His hamstring is fine. Very happy with that."
If Cook is as healthy as he has been all season, that’s bad news for the NC State defense. The Wolfpack are ranked 15th in rushing defense this season, but their unit hasn’t played against a running back of Cook’s caliber.
Now that Florida State no longer can play for a national championship and/or an ACC title, how will the team perform the rest of season? The Seminoles can still play in a huge bowl game, but they have to play well in their last three games of the regular season.
NC State has the ninth ranked defense in the FBS as they have given up an average of 296 yards per game. While the Wolfpack should be able to compete with the Seminoles, NC State hasn't had the toughest of schedules.
Clemson is the only ranked opponent NC State has played this season and the Tigers were able to gain 623 yards of total offense against them. Florida State’s offense isn’t as talented as Clemson’s, but they have just as good of athletes.
Cook should have another game over 150 yards rushing and unlike last week, the Seminoles should be able to find big plays in the passing game. NC State will likely keep it close for a bit, but Florida State should pull away late in the afternoon.
Prediction: Florida State 37, NC State 20
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.