In week 9, Wake Forest takes on what should be the second-best team in the ACC this season, the Florida State Seminoles. While the Deacs have a three-game winning streak against the Noles, FSU has a squad loaded with talent and hopes of making the playoff this season, so this is could be a very tough game for Wake to win. The Noles are currently ranked #8 in the first AP Top 25 poll of the season, making them the highest ranked team in the ACC.
- Opponent: Florida State Seminoles
- Date: Saturday, October 28th, 2023
- Location: Allegacy Stadium | Winston-Salem, NC
- Vegas Win Total O/U: 9.5
- 2022 Record: 10-3, 5-3 in the ACC
- Previous Matchup: Wake 31—FSU 21 (2022)
- All time vs Wake Forest: 30-9-1
The Florida State hype train seems to be at an all-time high this season and for good reason. From a 2022 team that finished the season on a 6-game winning streak and won 10 games for the first time since 2016, the Seminoles return almost every starter on both sides of the ball and added a ton of depth in the transfer portal. While I’m a little skeptical on the playoff hype (that 6-game winning streak last year included 1 team that finished the season with a winning record—7-6 Syracuse) the Seminoles will probably be one of the top teams in the ACC this season.
Last season, FSU had the best offense in the ACC, scoring 36.1 points and gaining 484 total yards per game. From that offense, the Seminoles are returning 8 starters and almost all of their skill positions. Among the starters returning is dual threat QB Jordan Travis, who will playing in his 6th year of college football this season. Travis had the best season of his career in 2022, completing 64% of his passes for 3,200 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions. He finished the season as PFF’s #1 rated QB and was awarded 2nd Team All-ACC honors. He was also a threat in the run game, rushing for 400 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Around Travis, the Noles have weapons everywhere. Running backs Trey Benson and Lawrance Toafili spearhead a backfield that ran for over 214 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry last season. Benson should be poised for a breakout season after rushing for 990 yards and 9 touchdowns last season. The 6-7 Johnny Wilson will lead the receiver group after catching 43 passes for 900 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. Wilson is a huge target and always looks hilariously un-guardable on the field towering over much smaller DBs. Joining Wilson out wide is Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman, who caught 58 passes for 900 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Spartans last season. With all that talent around a 6th year veteran QB, Florida State has the potential to be one of the best offensive teams in the nation this season.
The Florida State defense was also very good last season, allowing opponents just 20.6 points and 321 yards per game. Those numbers are slightly inflated in my opinion from blowout wins over Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Duquesne, Miami, and Louisiana—all teams that weren’t very good on offense last season. You play who you play, so we can’t really fault FSU for destroying bad teams—in those six games, the FSU defense was absolutely dominant, allowing just 60 total points and 217 yards per game. On the flip side, the Noles gave up 405 yards against Wake, 460 yards against Florida, 496 yards against Louisville, and nearly 500 yards against Oklahoma.
The defense, just like the offense, returns most of their talent from last season, including All-American DE Jared Verse. With 9 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last season, Verse was a projected 1st round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft but decided to return to FSU for another year. Around him, the Noles have the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Patick Payton (5 sacks) and a slew of transfers on the line, including Gilber Edmond from South Carolina (9 TFL, 2 sacks) and Braden Fiske from Western Michigan (12 TFL, 6 sacks). The Noles also return both starting linebackers in Tatum Bethune and Kalen DeLoach, a duo that combined for 149 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks last season.
The only place Florida State will really need to find a replacement is at safety, where the Noles lost All-American Jammie Robinson to the Carolina Panthers in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Robinson led FSU in tackles last season with 99 and added 1 interception and 5 passes defended. The rest of the secondary returns, and the Noles picked up All-ACC CB Fentrell Cypress II (14 passes defended last season) from Virginia in the transfer portal.
Florida State is probably going to be really good this season. With an offense returning almost all of their weapons and one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, I don’t really see the Wake Forest defense being able to hold them to 21 points again this season. The Deacs usually do well when they can almost just ignore defense and try to outscore the opponent, but I don’t think they want to get into a shootout with this FSU team. Maybe I’m just buying into the offseason hype, but I think FSU hands Wake a loss in this one.