Despite a low score, Florida State looked like a complete team in its Week 7 homecoming win over Wake Forest. The Seminoles defeated the Demon Deacons, 17-6, but had strong offensive performance from their three biggest stars.
Wide receiver Travis Rudolph recorded a season-best 238 yards on 13 catches. The junior averaged 18.3 yards per reception. It was the fourth best performance by an FSU wide receiver in school history trailing only Ron Sellers’ 260 yards against Wake Forest and 259 against South Carolina in 1968 and Peter Warrick’s 249 against Clemson in 1997.
Quarterback Deondre Francois threw for 319 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 22 of 37 passing.
Tailback Dalvin Cook recorded 115 yards on 25 carries. Adding to the performance, Cook managed to return to the game after experiencing an injury off of a big hit during a catch at midfield. After a slow start to the season, the junior has now rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his last four games.
For the second consecutive week, Florida State saw a strong performance from its defense in Saturday’s victory.
The Seminoles held the Demon Deacons out of the end zone for the fifth straight game, which dates back to 21 quarters and 10 years. Wake Forest recorded 252 yards of total offense, including 68 rushing and 184 passing yards.
“Hats off to our defense,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said during his postgame press conference.
“They were outstanding. They played the run tremendously well, pressured the quarterback, contested throws, created turnovers, created opportunities.
“And when they were pushed against the wall, they played their tails off.”
The Noles pass rush sacked Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford five times including twice by DeMarcus Walker, 1.5 by Josh Sweat. Marquez White and Tarvarus McFadden each recorded an interception, as part of the Demon Deacons’ three turnovers.
“When we guard our man for four, five seconds, it’s going to be a sack or a turnover,” said White, who recorded his first interception of the season.
Overall, it was a convincing performance by an FSU team that has been up and down this season. We’ve said it before, but the Seminoles are arguably the most disappointing team in college football based on failing to meet preseason expectations.
Still, this is a very good football team on both sides of the ball. That’s why there has been so much scrutiny up to this point. FSU’s defense was expected to have performances like it had in Weeks 6 and 7. There’s too much talent for the Noles to not be among the best defenses in the conference.
Perhaps the recent stretch of close games has helped FSU mature. After suffering an upset against UNC and a near-loss to Miami during the last two weeks, the Seminoles have figured everything out. Sometimes teams need to be challenged before they reach their full potential.
Then again, a 17-6 win over a team like Wake Forest, especially on homecoming, is hardly worth revamping College Football Playoff expectations next season. It was a solid effort, but the Noles need to put more points on the scoreboard, especially in favorable matchups.
Still, FSU deserves credit for taking advantage of a confidence-boosting matchup. The Noles will have a bye next week before facing Clemson on Oct. 29.
That week off could be crucial for a suddenly underrated FSU team facing the conference leader. Though their ACC championship aspirations may be slim, the Noles could still play spoiler to the Tigers’ perfect season.