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No. 22 Florida State looks to bounce back at N.C. State

The answer to the question of which team can overcome its recent disappointments may be found when Florida State visits North Carolina State.

The No. 22 Seminoles (5-3, 2-3 ACC) and the Wolfpack (4-4, 1-3) meet Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C. (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU).

The Seminoles are coming off a heartbreaking 37-34 loss to unbeaten Clemson that saw them lose an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter. That defeat pretty much eliminates them from the Atlantic Division title race and potential berth in the ACC Championship Game.

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Meanwhile, N.C. State hasn't been right since missing a late field goal and losing in overtime to Clemson. The Wolfpack lost twice more since after sitting at 4-1 following their 10-3 victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 8.

Last week, N.C. State lost 21-14 to a Boston College team that hadn't won a conference game since the 2014 season finale.

But playing a third-ranked opponent in the last four weeks does provide some motivation.

"We're ready to work," sophomore receiver Nyheim Hines said. "We're not going to let past losses impact our future."

Despite the skid, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren prefers to emphasize the positive. Other than the 54-13 whipping by Louisville, which followed the heartbreaking loss at Clemson, he notes that his team has been just a couple of plays away from turning the game around in each of its other three losses.

"We're close. That's the bottom line," Doeren said. "We have to execute. We have to make the play when the play is there."

Penalty problems have been largely persistent, and that's one area where the Wolfpack is intent on cleaning up. The shortcomings also developed during an erratic stretch of offense in October.

"We've just got to put it into action at this point," quarterback Ryan Finley said, noting that talking about it doesn't do much good if the results don't back up the dialogue.

Finley, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Boise State, threw for a career-best 307 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher sees his Seminoles, who lost big to Louisville early and by two points to North Carolina on a field goal as time ran out, as improving as well.

"This team is growing and getting much better," he said. "The competitive series, the things they do, their toughness, their mindset. Those kids, they did against North Carolina, but they're leaving everything out there.

"They're playing the way you want to play as far as the effort and snap."

The Seminoles still have one of the country's top breakaway running threats in running back Dalvin Cook, who has averaged 168 yards rushing over his last five outings, and a quarterback who has exhibited extraordinary toughness as a redshirt freshman.

Deondre Francois was sacked six times against Clemson but still passed for 286 yards and a touchdown. Francois has been sacked at least two times in all but one game for a total of 25 takedowns for the season.

The sacks would seem to indicate a problem area in the way of protection up front, but Fisher sees no reason for lineup changes, pointing out that other players such as fullbacks and tight ends must share in that responsibility. The offensive line starters will remain the same, at least for now.

"Right now, those guys are showing they play the most consistent," he said. "You're never satisfied because, even when you're perfect, you want to go push up. We've got to get better in a lot of areas, though, up there."