Quick hits and notes from NC State's stunning 17-16 upset of No. 3 Florida State in front of 54,962 obviously pleased fans at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday evening.
Okay, who saw that coming?
During his weekly press conference, NCSU head coach Tom O'Brien was bluntly asked about how few people were giving State much of a chance against FSU.
O'Brien took some playful shots at reporters, especially the Raleigh News and Observer Joe Giglio, joking that no one cared what the State beat reporter thought, but the truth is few did believe in NC State. The Vegas line grew in FSU's favor as the week went along.
State pulled off its biggest upset win since defeating No. 2 Florida State 24-7 in 1998. The Pack is 5-2 in its last seven games against a ranked Florida State opponent, and Tom O'Brien is 6-4 against ranked teams at Carter-Finley.
There were quite a few in this game. Redshirt freshman cornerback Juston Burris picked off his first career pass, and it could not have come at a more significant time. He intercepted FSU fifth-year senior EJ Manuel on a third and 10 play, picking off a slant pass at the NCSU 30 and returning it 11 yards to preserve the score at 16-3 in favor of FSU with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
Burris is the sixth different NC State player to have an interception this season. He also intercepted just the second pick Manuel had thrown in his previous 228 pass attempts, and that other INT was off a pass dropped by Manuel's intended receiver.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Mike Rose made his first career blocked punt a huge one. His block with 2:27 to go in the game gave NCSU the first down at the Florida State 43 with 2:27 remaining, setting up the game-winning drive. Ironically Rose was a sub for injured redshirt sophomore fullback Logan Winkles.
For NC State, that was their first blocked punt since former linebacker Colby Jackson had one against Boston College in 2010.
Redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood then set NC State history by catching the fourth and goal pass from the FSU 2 with 16 seconds left. Underwood has seven touchdown catches on the year and has received a score in all six games this season. He set the new school record for most consecutive games with a TD catch.
Kudos to the defense
Florida State had not been held to under 400 yards all season coming into Saturday, but the Pack held them to just 343 yards Saturday.
The second half was the dominant one for State. The Noles was held to just 122 yards in the final 30 minutes and six first downs after having 10 at the break.
Senior tailback Chris Thompson had 15 carries for 115 yards at halftime but was held to 26 yards on 11 rushes in the second half. Manuel completed 11 of 15 for 117 yards in the first half and 6 of 14 for 101 yards and an interception in the second.
The most important stat though was holding FSU scoreless in the final 30 minutes. The Noles had just one scoreless quarter in its first five games this year (20 total quarters), much less been completely shut out of a half.
Tip of the cap to the offensive line
Without the starting tackles (junior Rob Crisp and fifth-year senior Andrew Wallace) and the starting right guard (fifth-year senior right guard Zach Allen), State gave redshirt sophomore Cameron Fordham his first career start at right guard. In addition, redshirt freshman center Joe Thuney saw his most extensive action of his career.
But the line did its part. State had given up an ACC-worst 16 sacks in the first five games of the year but allowed Glennon to be taken to the ground for a sack just once Saturday . In fact it was just the sixth time in Glennon's 19 career games that he rushed for positive net yards (two carries for three yards Saturday).
What the win means
NC State improved to 4-2 and 1-1 in the ACC while FSU's national title hope took perhaps a devastating blow as they fell to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the ACC. NC State has a bye week now to prepare for the second half of the season.
Florida State still holds the all-time edge in the series at 22-11, but NC State is 4-4 with the Noles in the last eight games and has won four of the last six in Raleigh.
O'Brien improved to 37-32 at NC State. He ties Beattie Feathers for the fourth most wins in school history. Feathers went 37-39-3 from 1944-51. Third on the list is Mike O'Cain, who went 41-40 from 1993-99.
Spotted at the game
Premium subscribers can check out a list of recruits at the game on this thread
Several bowl scouts, including the Orange Bowl, were in the press box.