Thursday, October 28, 2010

Florida State-NC State Prediction: Seminoles, Wolfpack Fighting For ACC Championship Game Appearance

FSU tries to maintain a stranglehold on the Atlantic Division when they take on NC State in Raleigh tonight.

This is a must win for the Wolfpack if they want to stay in the race for the ACC Championship in the Atlantic Division.

But I think FSU wins this one. Road teams usually have a tough time in Thursday night games, but Jimbo Fisher's club has shown they can do it coming back against UNC last year in Chapel Hill.

Here are three reasons why I like FSU:

1. FSU's Rush Offense Can Control The Clock
The run game is back in Tallahassee after nearly a decade hiatus. FSU is rushing the ball for 224 yards per game in ACC play at 5.6 yards per attempt. The rushing attack has become even more important with QB Christian Ponder's elbow troubles.

NC State has been allowing 221 yards per game so Tom O'Brien's defense has some holes.

Nothing works better to take out a raucous Thursday night crowd than a clock controlling ground game.

2. FSU's Defense Is Significantly Better Than NC State's
The Seminoles defensive unit is allowing just 4.4 yards per play in ACC play. That compares very favorably to a Wolfpack unit allowing 5.7 yards per play.

Yards per play is a key statistic bettors look at to get a true indication of a unit's strength since points can be influenced by so many other factors.

3. NC State's Pass Protection Is Not Very Good
The Wolfpack are allowing 3 sacks per game in ACC games. QB Russell Wilson does hold onto the ball until the very last minute to try and make a play, but inexperience on the o-line is also playing a big role here.

The last team State may want to be seeing is FSU which is getting to the QB 4.3 times per game in conference play.

Line Analysis
I thought the initial line of FSU -3.5 was pretty good looking at the stats.

The perception is that FSU is getting back to the top of the ACC and NC State is still a middle of the road team after losing at East Carolina.

I think State gets a bigger than usual homefield advantage number because Thursday night games are so tough for road teams to win.

The line has jumped in recent days from around -4 to -6 on gameday indicating a lot of late money coming in on FSU. I personally don't have much a feel for this game on the spread, but he old saying when all the money seems to be going one way, go the other. Casinos get bigger and more numerous every year for a reason. I am staying away from this line.

So to me it looks like FSU is going to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. And you are going to win the majority of your games if you do that.

FSU 31 NC State 27

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