Auden Tate

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N.C. State hangs on to upset sluggish No. 12 Florida State

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A year after failing to pull the upset on the road against Clemson, N.C. State (3-1, 1-0 ACC) managed to take advantage o a Florida State team coming off an unusual layoff. The Wolfpack took a 10-0 lead on No. 12 Florida State (0-2, 0-1 ACC) in Tallahassee and managed to hold on for a 27-21 victory.

It was expected Florida State would start the game somewhat slowly, and they did. Starting a true freshman at quarterback and not having played a game since the opening week of the season against Alabama due to having to alter the schedule from Hurricane Irma’s path through the state of Florida meant the Seminoles might not be all on the same page early on. This was the case, although N.C. State brought the kind of gameplan and talent to take advantage of the situation, and credit them for doing just that.

Ryan Finley passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Wolfpack to the win, but the defense did its part too by allowing just four third-down conversions by Florida State out of 14 attempts. The lone turnover of the game was coughed up by Florida State as well, although N.C. State was not able to score any points off the turnover, but the fumble came at a costly time for Florida State as it appeared the momentum could be on their side with a drive down the field in a 10-7 game.

Making his first start for the Seminoles in place of the injured Deondre Francois, James Blackman was under pressure for much of the afternoon. N.C. State had a clear gameplan to get in Blackman’s face, and there were moments when Blackman reacted to it well and managed to drop some beautiful deep passes to his receivers. Blackman ended his first career start going 22-of-38 for 278 yards with a touchdown and one lost fumble. Auden Tate was the top receiver for Florida State with 138 yards and a touchdown.

Down 27-16 in the fourth quarter, Florida State did have their chances to grab the game in their home opener, but a turnover on downs after recording a safety and being held to a field goal after taking the football at the NC State 23-yard line following a blocked punt prevented the Seminoles form avoiding their first loss in a home opener for the first time under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Florida State now has two losses and still has games to play against Clemson and Louisville. The preseason favorite in the ACC and for a spot in the College Football Playoff is now looking to make history if there is a chance to do so. No College Football Playoff team has had two losses. Making the playoff is obviously quite an uphill battle at this point. That uphill climb will begin next week on the road against Wake Forest.

For N.C. State, the painful stain of a bewildering loss in the opener is a distant memory and now the Wolfpack hope to build off this major win next week at home against Syracuse.

 

Florida State looked sluggish and sloppy in first half vs. N.C. State, as expected

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Florida State, as many probably expected, looked like a team that has not played a game in three weeks after one half of play in Tallahassee against N.C. State. The visiting Wolfpack took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and hold a 17-7 advantage on the Seminoles at halftime in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Ryan Finley completed a 71-yard touchdown to Jakobi Meyers, who performed some acrobatics across the goal line (which was flagged, although the score counted) for the 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

Florida State seemed to get in sync in the second quarter. After two series on the field resulting in a pair of three-and-outs and a total of one yard of offense, Blackman and the Noles put their first drive together to the tune of 12 plays and 75 yards. Blackman capped the drive with a pass to Auden Tate from the four-yard line, but it was this key 3rd and 8 play that suggested Blackman had gotten comfortable for the first time in the game. A dropback pass to Tate went for 24 yards, and the placement of the pass could not have been much better.

That momentum did not seem to last too long, however. Florida State fumbled the ball away in crazy fashion on their next offensive series and later missed a field goal from the NC State 13-yard line. Blackman had a nice spin move to get away from a tackler, but he lost control of the football toward the end of his run, leading to a massive shift in momentum in bizarre fashion.

The play was reviewed to determine if Blackman’s knee had hit the ground prior to the fumble. After the review, the call on the field was upheld, and N.C. state recovered the ball at their two-yard line.

N.C. State’s first two offensive possessions were good for a combined 22 plays and over 120 yards and 10 points.

No. 3 Florida State reportedly loses QB Deondre Francois for the year to knee injury

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Florida State’s worst fears have been realized. Far worse than Saturday night’s 24-7 loss to Alabama was the anxious feeling that the knee injury that knocked quarterback Deondre Francois from the game would cost him more than one doomed series.

On Sunday, reports from the Tallahassee Democrat and ESPN stated Francois suffered a torn patella tendon and will be lost for the remainder of the season. ESPN reports Francois is set for surgery later this week.

Francois would finish his season hitting 19-of-33 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He started the game single-handedly carrying FSU’s offense, putting the Seminoles on top with a touchdown pass to Auden Tate in the second quarter. But as Florida State failed to make Alabama respect its running game — 40 total yards on 27 carries — the Tide’s attack pinned its ears back and made life miserable for Francois, intercepting him in Florida State territory on two consecutive passes before a Ronnie Harrison sack knocked him from the game.

Francois immediately started grabbing his left knee on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf. He was helped from the field and spent time briefly in an injury tent on the Florida State sideline before emerging with a brace around his knee and crutches on each side. He was carted to the locker room, where reporters saw him after the game with negative body language.

Francois started all 13 games for Florida State last season as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 3,350 yards with 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

With Francois out — Florida State has not confirmed the injury yet — Jimbo Fisher indicated last night the ‘Noles would turn to true freshman James Blackman at quarterback. Florida State hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday before No. 18 Miami comes to Tallahassee on Sept. 16.

No. 1 Alabama overwhelms No. 3 Florida State to win biggest opener ever

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It’s insanely difficult to get it done, but a blueprint to beat Alabama exists. You have to score. A lot. If you score and keep scoring, eventually the Tide will buckle. No matter how good your defense is, you have to score and keep scoring.

Florida State’s defense was quite good on Saturday night, but it wasn’t near enough to beat Alabama as the top-ranked Crimson Tide handled the 3rd-ranked Seminoles 24-7 in the biggest opening game in college football history.

The final score matches that of the last time Alabama played in Atlanta, a 24-7 win over Washington in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Peach Bowl. And like that game on New Year’s Eve, the Seminoles actually reached the end zone first.

After Alabama opened the scoring with a 35-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal, Florida State strung together by far its best drive of the night, moving 90 yards in 11 plays capped by a 3-yard fade from Deondre Francois to Auden Tate to give the Seminoles a 7-3 lead at the 13:41 mark of the second quarter.

But Alabama immediately answered with its own best drive of the night, an 85-yard blitzkrieg in five plays that ended on a 53-yard rainbow from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley to put Alabama on top at 10-7. That score would hold through the end of the first half, through what would prove to be the pivotal moment of the night, when Francois fired into the end zone to Nyqwan Murray and Tony Brown got away with a clear pass interference.

Florida State was forced to settle for a field goal try, which was blocked.

After a punt to open the second half, Florida State entered a stretch when its offense and special teams quite literally could not hold onto the ball. First, running back Damien Harris blocked a Florida State punt, which turned into an Alabama field goal. The ‘Noles fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Harris again capitalized by racing in for an 11-yard touchdown dash. A 2-point pass from Hurts to Ridley staked Alabama to a 21-7 lead with 1:41 to play in the third quarter.

Needing two scores to tie the game, the Florida State offense took its turn unraveling. Alabama intercepted two consecutive Francois passes, threatening the Florida State offense to the point where the ‘Noles next two possessions — two three-and-outs, two yards gained combined — felt like small accomplishments simply by getting the punt team on the field. Francois was sacked by Ronnie Harrison and came down holding his left knee; he had to be helped from the field and did not return.

Francois finished the night hitting 19-of-33 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while the Seminoles scratched out only 25 yards on 24 credited carries.

Alabama posted modest numbers offensively: 96 passing yards, 173 on the ground on 42 carries. But when the defense and special teams are as predictably and unflinchingly dominant as they were, 24 points by Alabama feels like 50 by anyone else.

The win pushed Alabama (1-0) to 14-1 in Atlanta, 8-0 in neutral site openers and 11-0 against former Nick Saban assistants. Florida State (0-1) will look to become the first team since Miami in 1983 to win a national championship after losing its opener.

Alabama leading Florida State through one half in Atlanta

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Through one half in Atlanta, Florida State-Alabama is exactly the game we thought it would be: a track meet/boxing match combination where each team struggles to maintain offense against the other. A game where Alabama has been slightly better than Florida State, as the Tide holds a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Alabama opened the scoring with a 35-yard Andy Pappanastos field goal, but Florida State immediately responded with its best drive of the night, an 11-play, 90-yard march that ended on a 3-yard fade from Deondre Francois to Auden Tate, giving the Seminoles a 7-3 lead at the 13:41 mark of the second quarter.

Alabama rebounded with a long drive of its own, moving 85 yards in only five snaps, closing on a 53-yard rainbow from Jalen Hurts to Calvin Ridley.

Each team also had its share of missed opportunities. Florida State’s first possession ended on a turnover on downs at the Alabama 34 when Francois didn’t see a wide open receiver streaking down the middle of the field. Alabama’s first touch concluded with a 42-yard missed field goal.

Hurts has completed 7-of-12 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown with seven carries for 43 yards. Damien Harris leads all runners with 47 yards on five carries, though 34 came on one rush — the first play of the game. Alabama’s final three possessions after the touchdown drive all ended in 3-and-outs.

The ‘Noles had a chance to tie the game just before the half, but Ricky Aguayo‘s 37-yard field goal try was blocked. Jimbo Fisher and company will have a gripe after the game, as Alabama got away with what appeared to be a textbook pass interference penalty on Alabama’s Tony Brown inside the Tide end zone that went uncalled. Francois has completed 14-of-22 passes for 161 yards and a score, but FSU has mustered only 24 yards on 13 carries.

Florida State will receive to open the second half.