Early losses to Louisville and North Carolina have rendered Florida State a moot point in the College Football Playoff picture, aside from maybe playing spoiler against Clemson later on. But the Seminoles could still make a New Year's Six bowl if they win out or close to it, so they're not playing for nothing in the second half of the year.
Wake Forest is a trickier adversary than the Noles probably figured. The Demon Deacons still can't play much offense, but they defend well enough and have started the year a stunning 5-1. They've got a better record than FSU!
We'll figure out in the weeks (and years) to come how good Wake Forest actually is. But the Deacons are plucky enough that FSU blowing them out is not the foregone conclusion it once seemed. And if the Deacs keep getting better, who knows? Maybe they can make a little ACC Atlantic noise sometime down the line.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, and Allison Williams.
Radio: Wake Forest and Florida State
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: FSU opened as a 25.5-point favorite, though the line closed a bit during the week.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation's team blog chats for this game at Blogger So Dear (for Wake fans) and Tomahawk Nation (for FSU fans).
Three big things to know
1. Wake Forest scores 24 points per game, yet has still gotten to 5-1. That's a testament to the Deacs' defense, which has allowed these point totals in five victories: 3, 14, 21, 28, and 9. Wake isn't easy to score against and has bent plenty, but only rarely broken. When teams get inside the 40 against Wake, they average 3.3 points per trip – the 11th-best figure in the country. The Deacs haven't given up many touchdowns, and it turns out that's helpful.
2. Dalvin Cook's got a big job on his hands. Wake does well defending the box, and no team has run on the Deacs for better than 5.1 yards per carry. Cook averages 5.9 and will be the most explosive runner they face, so watch for Wake to drag a safety toward the line of scrimmage to counter him. A lot will fall to Deondre Francois, which might work out well for FSU against a pass defense that's not as good as the run stopping.
3. FSU needs to recover, and this is a step down that path. The Noles escaped Miami with a close win against a good opponent last week, a week after losing at home to North Carolina. They play Clemson next, so anything less than a cruise to victory against Wake could set them up to fall back into a hole. On another hand, beating a potentially good Wake team and then solving Clemson would give FSU some new life. We'll learn a good bit by the end of the month.