The Daily Nole

FSU Football: Key Match-ups for Every September Contest

Jeff Romance/FSU athletics

Florida State is less than two months from kicking its season off on Sept. 2. The first month will be a test for the Noles, as they open with Alabama in Atlanta. The Seminoles will have to be on top of their game in all aspects to defeat the dynasty that is the Crimson Tide.

Things definitely won’t come easy for FSU, especially when facing what could be the top-ranked Tide. Florida State also opens ACC play with rival Miami before closing the month of September with N.C. State and an away game at Wake Forest.

With the intriguing contests comes intriguing match-ups. Here are the match-ups to watch for FSU in every September game:

vs. Alabama, Sept. 2 (Atlanta)
Key Match-up:
FSU defense vs. Alabama offense
Under head coach Nick Saban, Alabama has been known for its defense, but the Crimson Tide have a lot of offensive weapons that could give FSU fits. In openers under Saban, the Crimson Tide are averaging 41.2 points per game. Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in all of college football while wide receiver Calvin Ridley at times can be un-guardable and will be a challenge for FSU’s talented secondary. If Ridley is able to find open space, expect FSU safety Derwin James to be there patiently waiting for him. The talent at running back that Alabama has in Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris is a dangerous one-two punch that FSU will have to find a way to contain.

vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Sept. 9
Key Match-up:
FSU offense vs. Louisiana-Monroe defense
In this match-up, the Seminoles should have no problem running up the scoreboard. FSU quarterback Deondre Francois and the elusive offense should have little trouble on their hands. Louisiana-Monroe is a team that allowed at least 40 points five times last season. This second match-up of September will be a quality one for the offense, as they should tally up a good amount of points and a lot of yards on offense.

vs. Miami, Sept. 16
Key Match-up:
FSU offensive line vs. Miami defensive line
The Seminoles barely escaped Miami last year, as they won 20-19 on a blocked extra point in the game’s final minutes. This season, expect the same amount of fight from both teams. The key match-up to watch here is the Seminoles’ offensive line against the Hurricanes’ defensive line. If the O-line can contain Miami’s versatile defensive line which features Chad Thomas, Joe Jackson and Kendrick Norton, the Seminoles should hold a strong chance to leave with a win. Keeping Deondre Francois away from pressure will be the key to this game. Francois temporarily left last season’s contest with a shoulder injury before coming back to rally the team.

vs. N.C. State, Sept. 23
Key Match-up:
FSU offense vs. N.C. State defense
The Florida State offense will yet again be tested and in a big way. N.C. State has beaten FSU before and has let double-digit leads slip away in each of the last three years, but has lost four straight overall. During FSU’s 5-game winning streak to close the season in 2016, the Wolfpack held it to the fewest points with 24 in a 24-20 FSU come-from-behind victory in Raleigh. N.C. State kept Dalvin Cook in check for the majority of last year’s contest and return a lot of talent in the front seven, including defensive end Bradley Chubb, defensive tackle B.J. Hill and veteran linebackers Airius Moore and Jerod Fernandez.

vs. Wake Forest, Sept. 30
Key Match-up:
FSU offense vs. Wake Forest defense
In its first true road game of the season, Florida State will travel to take on a Wake Forest team that has stifled the Seminoles in each of the last two seasons. In the last two contests, the Demon Deacons have held FSU to just a combined 41 points. Wake forced four FSU turnovers in last year’s meeting. Wake Forest does lose Marquel Lee to the NFL, but Duke Ejiofor, a defensive end, and safety Jessie Bates return. Both were big parts of a defense that ranked in the top 20 nationally last season in fewest points per game allowed.

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