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NoleGameday Staff Score Predictions: Florida State vs. Wake Forest

Our staff provides their predictions and analysis for a ranked contest between the Seminoles and Demon Deacons.

No. 23 Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) returns to Doak Campbell Stadium for the second consectiuve week in what is one of the most important home games in recent memory against No. 22 Wake Forest (3-1, 0-1). This will be the first ranked matchup in Tallahassee in over four years and despite a hurricane hitting a large portion of the state, plenty of fans are expected to be in the stands. The game against the Demon Deacons marks the beginning of a daunting stretch for the Seminoles that will feature three ranked opponents in three weekends. 

READ MORE: Florida State Seminoles release Depth Chart for Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest's high-powered is led by veteran quarterback Sam Hartman. Since returning from blood clots early in the season, Hartman has racked up 13 touchdowns to 2 interceptions while completing 64% of his passes. Six of those scores came last weekend against Clemson. The Demon Deacons will test Florida State on the ground with their slow mesh RPO and through the air with two big receivers; A.T. Perry (6-foot-5) and Jahmal Banks (6-foot-4). They return all five starters on the offensive line from a year ago but are only averaging 3.4 yards per carry and have allowed 10 sacks.

The defense has had its fair share of struggles due to a beat-up secondary but Wake Forest has remained opportunistic. The unit has forced eight turnovers and racked up 11 sacks in four games. Cornerback Caelon Carson may be back in the lineup this week after missing the Demon Deacons' loss to Clemson. Wake Forest has only allowed 3.74 yards per rush so the Seminoles might have to beat them through the air on Saturday afternoon.

Our staff provides their analysis and predictions as the Seminoles take on the Demon Deacons.

Dustin Lewis (@Dussttin)

I had this game pegged as a win on Florida State's schedule in the preseason. At the time, the majority of that was due to Sam Hartman being out. Hartman has since returned and looked great but I feel very comfortable with where the Seminoles are at entering Saturday. They've shown an ability to throw the first punch and overcome adversity.

Florida State needs to somehow throw Hartman out of his rhythm early in this game. He's seen basically everything a college defense can throw at him but we'll see what defensive coordinator Adam Fuller has cooked up. Hartman threw six touchdowns a week ago and is playing some of the best football of his career leading up to the matchup with the Seminoles. It'll also be tough to guard two giant targets in A.T. Perry and Jahmal Banks.

With that being said, FSU's offense should be able to find success against Wake Forest's defense. The Demon Deacons have struggled to defend the pass while quarterback Jordan Travis is coming off a career performance against Boston College. Look for the the wide receivers to make plenty of plays against an injured and inexperienced secondary.

Looking at it on paper, I see this one turning into a true shoot out between Florida State and Wake Forest. The Seminoles defense will lock this one up with a big play late in the game.

Season record: 3-1

Florida State 38, Wake Forest 35

Logan Robinson (@LogansTwitty)

This game is going to come down to FSU's pressure at the front on the defensive side along with the secondary play. This week during practice, the defensive back room looked sharp. Plays being made left and right, something you love to see before facing a quarterback threat in Wake Forest's Sam Hartman.

I'm expecting some sort of shoot out. A lot of points scored in the 4th quarter. Seminoles win by just a tad.

Season record: 4-0

Florida State 38, Wake Forest 34

Austin Veazey (@NolesVikesVeaz)

Almost everyone I’ve seen has picked FSU even if they’re favored by an entire touchdown. Wake’s slow mesh concept that seems to take 5 seconds to develop will cause issues, but I think Norvell has had this one circled since the disastrous turnover-heavy performance in Winston Salem last season. Had Dave Clawson acted like he wanted to play this game I might have chosen Wake, but his lack of energy in press conferences has me picking the 'Noles in a high scoring affair. 

Season record: 3-1

Florida State 41, Wake Forest 38

Charleston Bowles (@Cbowles01)

I think Florida State’s offense is explosive enough to keep up with Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons on the scoreboard. In 2021, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller and the Seminoles defense had difficulty stopping Wake Forest’s slow mesh offense. However, in this matchup, the ‘Noles defense proves to be disciplined enough. FSU puts together a late defensive stop at the right time and stays undefeated.

Season record: 4-0

Florida State 38, Wake Forest 34

John Jenkins (@_jmj4_)

First I would like to say my prayers and thoughts are with everyone in Florida who was hit by Hurricane Ian. FSU begins its toughest stretch of the season and while my heart is saying FSU, my mind is telling me Wake Forest. I think Sam Hartman and company will be motivated and will win a close one. 

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Season record: 4-0

Wake Forest 38, Florida State 35

Maddox Nebel (@MaddoxNebel)

The Seminole defense will have their hands full with Wake’s high powered offense but with home field advantage and an awkward travel for Wake, FSU wins a close one to go 5-0.

Season record: 4-0

Florida State 30, Wake Forest 27

Jon Conahan (@JonConahan)

This one should be interesting for Florida State. If they were fully healthy, I’d say they win this one more comfortably. However, I still like them to win this one outright in a high scoring affair.

Season record: 4-0

Florida State 38, Wake Forest 31

Jacob Stevens (@Jacob_Stevens26)

This one is a toss up to me but I think the Noles will have a second half rally and win.

Season record: 4-0

Florida State 38, Wake Forest 31

Dillon Riera (@13d_riera)

Do we have quite the showdown going down in Tallahassee this weekend or what? After a period of uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Ian, football is indeed being played between the Florida State Seminoles and Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and this one has all of the storylines. On one side, the 4-0 Seminoles are looking to continue their winning streak and defend their first national ranking since 2018. On the other side, the #22 ranked Demon Deacons are looking to bounce back after a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Clemson Tigers just one week ago. Yes, this game has a lot more riding on it than your run-of-the-mill Week 5 matchup.

Florida State opens as a 7-point favorite over the Demon Deacons, but I think that's generous all things considered. Let me remind you that this is a Wake Forest team that just went toe to toe with a top 5 Clemson team. A Wake Forest team that won the Atlantic Division just last year. Not to mention the fact that they returned a horde of impact players, most notably quarterback Sam Hartman. There may have been concerns about his health heading into the season, but those concerns are long gone now. This is a veteran quarterback displaying a mastery of his offense. Hartman, through 4 games, has passed for 962 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions. Head Coach Dave Clawson has fine tuned the RPO at Wake Forest, and his emphasis on slowing the "mesh point" has caused fits for opposing defenses everywhere. If you are like me and you've watched the Deacons over the last few years, this "mesh" heavy offense is infuriating to watch because of how slow developing yet insanely lethal it can be. So far this season, this is a Wake Forest offense that is averaging nearly 43 points per game and 437.5 total yards. Roughly 314 of those yards come through the passing game, and wide receiver A.T. Perry is at the receiving end of most of those passes. In his first 4 games this season, Perry has reeled in 273 yards and 2 touchdowns. Against an injury riddled Florida State defensive line, this offense has the potential to break the game open.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, there is a silver lining for this Florida State defense. If you're reading closely and you're able to do some quick math, you've noticed that just 123 of Wake Forest's 437.5 total yards of offense have come on the ground. Despite having a strong receiving corps and one of the most electric passing quarterbacks in the nation, the Demon Deacons have struggled to find footing in the run game. If the Seminoles are to find any way to slow Hartman and the Wake offense down, they're going to have to put an emphasis on limiting the passing game and daring the Deacons to find the run. The question is, can they do so with injuries across the defensive line?

While the emphasis is on the Florida State defense to find ways to stifle the Demon Deacon offense, I can't help but feel that this game is still going to be a good ol' fashioned shootout. Which means regardless of the defensive performance, the Florida State offense must continue to move the ball quickly and put up points. Behind the stellar play of quarterback Jordan Travis, the Seminole offense has found ways to diversify their production on offense and keep opposing defenses guessing. FSU's offense currently averages 503.8 yards per game, but it's the fairly even split between passing and rushing yards (277 and 226, respectively) that make defending them a daunting task. In what's sure to be a high scoring contest, it's imperative that Florida State makes the most of every offensive drive and punish a Wake Forest defense that allows 30.5 points per game.

On paper, Vegas and the "experts" are siding with the 'Noles by a wide margin with ESPN's FPI predicting 73.4% in Florida State's favor. However, I believe this game is a borderline coin flip decision. Something in my head keeps reminding me of the Florida State football teams of years prior and how every week felt like walking through a haunted house, scared that something bad wass hiding behind every corner. Each week comes and goes, and I keep thinking that this is the week something pops out from behind that corner and finally gets the 'Noles. On the contrary, something in my gut is telling me that things are different; that this isn't the same FSU football team. This is a new Florida State program with a desire to win and the resilience and know-how to do just that. Earlier in the week, I was completely unsure about which team my prediction would favor. At the midpoint of the week, I was leaning towards Wake Forest. Heck, up until I started writing this prediction, I was going to pick the Demon Deacons, but something in my gut believes that the Seminoles get this done. Florida State is at home in Doak Campbell Stadium in front of a growing home crowd that is fired up against Wake Forest Head Coach Dave Clawson and representing a state that just endured a natural disaster. In what is sure to be a high-scoring, action-packed Top 25 matchup, I believe the Seminoles find the will to stretch their score out in front of the Demon Deacons ever so slightly and turn yet another corner in the development of this program. 

Season record: 2-0

Florida State 38, Wake Forest 35

CONSENSUS: Florida State (8-1)

READ MORE: Florida State crushes Boston College to remain undefeated

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