NC State football 2021 schedule countdown: No. 8, Florida State
Introducing a 12-part series in which we rank NC State’s 2021 strength of schedule from the easiest opponent (No. 12) to the most challenging (No. 1).
Checking in at No. 8 is Florida State, the Wolfpack’s ninth opponent this fall.
The Pack is scheduled to face the Seminoles in Tallahassee on Saturday, Nov. 6 at a time to be announced.
Head Coach: Mike Norvell (2nd season) — 3-6 (.333)
2020 Record: 3-6
Georgia Tech — L, 16-13
at Miami — L, 52-10
Jacksonville State — W, 41-24
at Notre Dame — L, 42-26
North Carolina — W, 31-28
at Louisville — L, 48-16
Pittsburgh — L, 41-17
at NC State — 38-22
Duke — W, 56-35
2017 — 5th
2018 — 10th
2019 — 17th
2020 — 20th
2021 — 30th
2020 Season Review
Head coach Mike Norvell had his work cut out for him in year one in Tallahassee.
With or without the offseason drama and roster turnover in the summer of 2020, Florida State was beginning a rebuild under Norvell, who went 38-15 overall in four seasons at Memphis before taking the job with the Seminoles last year.
After choking a double-digit lead in the season opener against Georgia Tech, the Noles were pummeled by rival Miami in Hard Rock Stadium in week two. FSU went on to beat outmanned Jacksonville State before facing then-ranked top-five ACC opponents in back-to-back weeks.
The Noles followed up a respectable showing in South Bend with a shocking win over then-ranked No. 5 North Carolina at home.
But it was downhill from there.
Florida State went on to lose the next three games by a combined margin of 72 points before finishing the regular season with a 56-35 victory over Duke.
Did You Know?
•NC State is 13-27 all-time against Florida State. The Wolfpack defeated the Seminoles 38-22 in Carter-Finley Stadium last season.
•The Pack has only defeated FSU once in seven meetings in Tallahassee since 2005. The lone victory was a 27-21 win in 2017 over a Seminoles team that was ranked No. 11 at the time.
•NC State was the first ACC program to defeat Florida State in Tallahassee after the Seminoles joined the league in 1992. The Wolfpack did so with a 23-19 win over the then-ranked No. 10 Noles in Doak Campbell Stadium in 2001. The Pack defeated FSU (ranked No. 14) 17-7 in Carter-Finley Stadium the next season, becoming the first ACC program to defeat the Seminoles twice as members of the league.
Florida State is still in the rebuilding process, but improvement should be expected this fall.
Speaking of improvement, there's room for a lot of it. FSU was the second-lowest ranked team in the ACC last season according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), earning an overall season grade that ranked 112th nationally.
The Seminoles rank 53rd among FBS teams in terms of overall returning production this season according to ESPN's Bill Connelly's SP+ metric. The Noles rank 25th in returning offensive production but 90th in returning production on defense.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Travis, who missed the NC State game last fall due to injury, returns as FSU's leading passer and rusher in 2020.
Travis completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,056 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for 569 yards on 97 carries (5.9 yards per rush) and seven touchdowns.
Leading pass-catcher, redshirt junior receiver Ontaria Wilson, is also back. He reeled in 30 receptions for 382 yards and two touchdowns last season. He also gained 32 yards on four rush attempts.
FSU also returns its leading tackler from the 3-6 2020 campaign, redshirt sophomore linebacker Amari Gainer. Gainer produced 65 tackles, including five for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and assisted on one sack.
Along with a 17-man 2021 recruiting class that includes four four-star prospects according to Rivals, Florida State will welcome several high major transfers.
The most notable of which is UCF transfer quarterback McKenzie Milton, who threw for over 8600 yards, including 72 touchdowns and 22 interceptions from 2016-2018.
The Noles will also get an injection of talent on the defensive side of ball with notable transfers defensive end Kier Thomas of South Carolina, defensive end Jermaine Johnson of Georgia and safety Jammie Robinson of South Carolina.
Why No. 8 In The Countdown?
Florida State shouldn't sneak up on NC State. After all, by game nine, we should know a lot more about both of these teams.
Because of the Seminoles' talent potential but concerning results on the field the past few seasons, FSU may have one of the widest ranges of potential outcomes in the ACC this season.
This won't be the same Noles squad that was out of it by halftime in Carter-Finley Stadium last season. But despite the Pack's lack of more than one win in Tallahassee over the past 15 years, NC State should have the edge in this contest with its experience.
Florida State is talented, and Norvell may be the guy to get the program back on track, but the Seminoles are still in the thick of a rebuilding process. Not to mention, the Noles have one of the toughest schedules in the ACC, so 7-8 wins this fall would be a lot better than it looks on paper.