Saturday at 3:30 on ESPN, FSU will be in Chapel Hill to play the North Carolina Tar Heels.
North Carolina is 3-2 this season with wins against Georgia State, Virginia and Duke and losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
The ‘Noles are 16-3-1 all time against the Tar Heels. In last season’s match-up FSU edged no. 5 UNC 31-28.
Observations from the last game
It was a little too close for comfort, but the garnet and gold pulled through. A big reason for that was the play of Jordan Travis, who saw his first action since being injured at Wake Forest. Travis completed 22 passes and rushed for 113 yards. A couple of times in the second half, FSU could have put the game out of reach but a turnover each time put the Orange back in the game.
Sophomore defensive tackle Dennis Briggs will miss the rest of the season with an injury.
Florida State offense versus North Carolina defense
The Florida State offense came out on fire against the North Carolina defense last year, which propelled the ‘Noles to a 31 to 7 halftime lead. However, the UNC defense made some adjustments and held FSU scoreless in the second half.
Jordan Travis was able to spark the running game, which caused UNC to play closer to the line of scrimmage leading to opportunities in the passing game. Travis will need to play like he did last year in order for the Seminoles to knock off the Tar Heels for a second straight year.
North Carolina will also have to deal with a fully healthy Jashaun Corbin. Difference makers on the Heels’ are linebackers Jeremiah Gemmel and Tomari Fox as well as defensive back Ja’Qurious Conley.
Florida State defense versus North Carolina offense
Preseason ACC Player of the year Sam Howell is the engine of the high-powered North Carolina offense. Howell is 7th in the FBS in passing touchdowns with 14 and has 1,494 yards passing. Howell’s favorite target is Josh Downs, who has 40 receptions (25 more than any other player on the team) for 620 yards and six touchdowns.
The Tar Heels returned their entire offensive line, but they have allowed 22 sacks (six more than FSU). The biggest key for the Seminoles in this game is to take advantage of UNC’s weaknesses of protecting the quarterback and the football.
Other players to watch on offense are running back Ty Chandler and tight end Kamari Morales. Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas need to get after the quarterback and Jarvis Brownlee needs to have a big game to slow down Josh Downs.
Kicker: Ryan Fitzgerald < UNC’s Grayson Atkins. Punter: Alex Mastromanno and UNC’s Ben Kiernan is a push.
Yes, the ‘Noles pulled off the upset last year but I think this North Carolina team is too strong this time around. Seminoles 30 North Carolina 44.