Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#145 Florida State (FSU) vs.
#146 Wake Forest
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 3:30pm EDT
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

The Florida State Seminoles will look to get in the win column for the first time this season when they visit the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Saturday afternoon at Truist Field in ACC action. Florida State is coming off an ugly 20-17 home loss to FCS Jacksonville State on Saturday night as a huge 28-point favorite to fall to 0-2 on the young season. Wake Forest is off to a 2-0 start after handling FCS Norfolk State over the weekend in a 41-16 win as a 43-point home favorite.

This has historically been a one-sided matchup with Florida State leading a 30-7-1 advantage all-time, but Wake Forest won the last meeting 22-20 at home back in October of 2019.

Florida State stunned by FCS foe

After showing some signs of progress with an overtime loss to the No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the season opener to begin year two under Mike Norvell, Florida State now has to go back to the drawing board following the massive upset last weekend at the hands of Jacksonville State. After being held scoreless until the 5:01 mark of the second quarter, Florida State struck twice on a 12-yard touchdown run by Jashaun Corbin followed by McKenzie Milton hitting Wyatt Rector on a short touchdown pass. The Seminoles were in good shape with 4:45 to go, but Jacksonville State scored on a 23-yard pass and then got the shocking game-winner on a 59-yard Hail Mary as time expired.

Milton finished 18 of 31 for 133 yards, one touchdown and one interception as the Seminoles really struggled to get anything going in the air. Corbin was the standout with 15 carries for 109 yards and one touchdown. It was an ugly game otherwise, as Jacksonville State finished with a 350-335 advantage in total yards to score the upset.

“We just have to continue to improve in a lot of phases,” Norvell said to the Associated Press. “The penalties, the things that are putting us behind chains or the things that are extending drives, those have to get fixed. Those are critical-moment plays. I believe in who these kids are and what they’re about."

Florida State is off to a 1-1 start against the spread, as it was able to keep close in the overtime loss against Notre Dame as a touchdown underdog. Overs are also even at 1-1, as the ugly defensive struggle against Jacksonville State went way under the betting total of 57 points.

It's been a tale of two very different games for the Florida State offense, which is averaging 27.5 points per game on 388.5 yards per contest. Florida State has allowed 30.5 points per game, with opponents racking up an average of 304 passing yards.

Milton, who suffered a devastating leg injury that looked like it would end his career in 2018 with UCF, has completed 23 of his 38 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception after coming off the bench in the season opener. Corbin has been explosive with 30 carries for 253 yards and two touchdowns, while Ja'khi Douglas has racked up three catches for 80 yards and a score. Jermaine Johnson has been a force defensively with 18 tackles including six for loss, four sacks and one pass breakup.

There aren't too many injury updates from Florida State, although senior defensive end Leonard Warner III and starting linebacker Emmett Rice are both questionable for undisclosed reasons. Offensive lineman Dontae Lucas is no longer with the team after making 14 starts over the last three years.

Wake Forest cruises to easy victory with tougher tests ahead

The Demon Deacons have not faced much of a challenge so far against two overmatched opponents, as they easily handled the Old Dominion Monarchs in the opener before comfortably taking down their FCS foe on Saturday. Norfolk State took a 3-0 lead early, but a barrage of points followed for Wake Forest with Sam Hartman, Christian Beal and Christian Turner all scoring on touchdown runs in the first half, while Jaquarii Roberson got in on the action on a 64-yard score on the first play after the break.

Hartman finished 17 of 25 passing for 244 yards and a touchdown while adding 30 rushing yards plus the score. Roberson had four receptions for 97 yards and the long touchdown. Wake Forest finished with a 413-336 advantage in total yards, as Norfolk State was unable to effectively finish off drives until garbage time.

“When you play these games and you have a physical advantage, you want to be efficient and you want to make explosive plays,” head coach Dave Clawson said via the Associated Press. “It’s really hard to find any fault with what we did on offense other than when you put the 2s and the 3s in, you don’t want it to drop off as much as it did.”

Wake Forest has been unable to cover in either of its two games, as a massive 33-point spread in the opening victory over Old Dominion was too much to overcome. Overs are also 0-2 for the Demon Deacons after last weekend's game fell just one point short of the total of 57.

The Demon Deacons have been a high-scoring team under Clawson and look sharp so far this year with an average of 41.5 points and 382.5 yards per game. Improvement on the defensive end will be key, and the Demon Deacons are allowing 13 points on 304 yards per game in the early going.

Hartman has already racked up 452 yards and four touchdowns on 35 of 52 passing, while adding the lone touchdown on the ground. Beal has carried the ball 20 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns, while Roberson has 10 receptions for 143 yards and two scores. Jasheen Davis is a standout defensively with 9.5 tackles including 2.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks.

The Demon Deacons lost three starters in training camp, as wide receiver Donavan Green , right tackle Je'Vionte' Nash and linebacker Chase Monroe all suffered season-ending injuries. Defensive back Nasir Greer is expected to return to the lineup after sitting out last week with an undisclosed issue.

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Clawson has turned Wake Forest from a cellar-dweller into a program that can consistently beat the bottom half of the ACC, and Florida State still looks to be in a rebuilding phase. Florida State's near upset bid against Notre Dame in the opener doesn't hold as much weight after both the Seminoles and Fighting Irish looked terrible last weekend, and the explosive Wake Forest offense will be too much to handle in this one.

Wake Forest's offense quietly ranked in the top 20 nationally in both scoring and yards per game last season with all 11 starters returning from that unit including a fourth-year quarterback in Hartman, who has averaged 8.5 yards per attempt since his freshman campaign. That gives Wake Forest an advantage in this game under center, as quarterback play has been the biggest problem in Norvell's early tenure, and it's unfair to expect too much of Milton in 2021 given how much time he missed rehabbing the gruesome leg injury.

There are questions for the Demon Deacon defense but getting back its leader in Greer is huge, and the front can do some damage as the Florida State offensive line has been a problem for years. Wake Forest is getting undervalued as it isn't nearly as big of a brand name as Florida State, but the Demon Deacons have been the better program the last four years here.

Prediction: Wake Forest -5

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While Wake Forest might not be the most efficient offense out there, it makes up for it in volume as Clawson's offense runs a very high tempo at 81.2 plays per game a year ago to rank sixth in all of college football. Norvell is also starting to get some tempo going at Florida State as his offenses historically tend to hover around 75 plays per game, so both of these teams will get plenty of scoring opportunities without much rest for the defenses.

Florida State allowed an ugly 6.5 yards per play last season and didn't look good at all against a not particularly strong Notre Dame offense, and Wake Forest's ceiling defensively is probably an average at best unit as Norfolk State was able to move the ball well. Tempo will be the difference-maker here, especially against two shaky defensive teams.

Prediction: Over 61.5
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.