No. 3 Seminoles set sights on Wolfpack

The third-ranked Florida State Seminoles get back to ACC action this weekend, as they travel to Raleigh to take on the NC State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles took a brief respite from conference play last weekend, traveling to Tampa to take on Big East foe South Florida. The result was a 30-17 victory for FSU, as the team moved to 5-0 on the season for the first time since 2005. It wasn't the prettiest win, but Fisher was pleased with the effort his team gave in its first road game of the season.

"Our kids did fight hard; it was a win going on the road, a tough environment as far as knowing they were 2-2. You know they were going to try to make that season right here and try to get back into it and play hard, and they did that and our kids fought through it. We have a lot of mistakes to clean up, but we came out with the 'W' and a 'W' is always good."

Tom OBrien's Wolfpack have had their ups and downs in 2012 and their 3-2 record is certainly proof of that. NC State had a three-game win streak come to a halt with last weekend's 44-37 loss to Miami (Fla) in the team's ACC opener. The team was plagued by six turnovers and 14 penalties in the loss to the Hurricanes.

This is the 33rd meeting between these two teams. Florida State holds a 22-10 advantage and is 9-6 in games played in Raleigh. FSU recorded a 34-0 shutout of NC State in Tallahassee last year.

The Seminoles are no longer strictly a defensive team, as the 2012 offense is clicking on all cylinders thus far. Florida State ranks sixth nationally in scoring (51.0 ppg) and ninth in total offense (544.4 ypg). It has been a great balance between the run (261.2 ypg) and the pass (283.2 ypg) but the steady play of quarterback E.J. Manuel is the driving force.

Manuel has been extremely sharp, completing 73.3 percent of his passes, for 1,147 yards, with nine TDs and just one INT. The team doesn't have a go-to-guy downfield, as Manuel has spread the ball around. Seven different players have double-digit receptions on the year.

The ground game has a potent one-two punch with RBs Chris Thompson (431 yards, 8.8 ypc, five TDs) and James Wilder Jr. (293 yards, 6.4 ypc, six TDs).

Defense is still the name of the game in Tallahassee, with the Seminoles ranking among the nation's best in scoring defense (11.4 ppg), rush defense (72.4 ypg), pass defense (128.4 ypg) and of course total defense (200.8 ypg).

The 'Noles lost All-ACC end Brandon Jenkins early on, but Cornellius Carradine has filled the void, posting a team-high 28 tackles, 8.0 TFLs and 7.0 sacks. Fellow end Bjoern Werner is a monster on the other side, with 17 total tackles, 9.0 TFLs and 6.5 sacks. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes (14 tackles, two INTs) possesses All-American talent in the secondary.

The Wolfpack are hoping they have found their groove offensively after posting a school-record 674 yards in the loss to Miami last weekend. The outburst certainly helped the numbers overall, as NC State is now averaging 30.2 ppg, while churning out 445.6 ypg.

Quarterback Mike Glennon has been inconsistent at best, but is coming off a big game against Miami. On the year, the 6-6 signal-caller is completing 61.9 percent of his passes, for 1,422 yards, but he has just 10 TDs against six INTs.

Quintin Payton leads the team with 19 receptions and 421 yards, but it is Bryan Underwood who has made the most of his touches, as half of his 12 receptions have resulted in touchdowns.

Tailbacks Tony Creecy (250 yards and three TDs) and Shadrach Thornton (232 yards, two TDs) headline the play in the backfield.

The real question for NC State is along an offensive line that has been shuffled around a bit. O'Brien voiced his concern of that in regard to FSU's pass rush.

"Certainly they have great speed, guys that can come off the edge with speed," said O'Brien. "We saw that last year. We only have one starter in a spot we want him in. That's going to be the challenge for the guys up front. We have to be able to protect the quarterback and we have to be able to throw the ball."

The NC State offense moved up and down the field with ease against Miami, but the Hurricanes returned the favor, as the Wolfpack allowed a startling 652 yards. The team has done a decent job against the run (112.2 ypg), but has struggled against the pass (278.6 ypg).

Senior safety Earl Wolff has been all over the field for the Wolfpack, leading the way with 50 total tackles. Adding to the strength of the secondary is All- American cornerback David Amerson (19 tackles, three INTs) who is tied for the most INTs in ACC history (16).