Florida State, NC State will battle for claim to legitimacy in ACC race

Mike Norvell, Florida State Seminoles. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Mike Norvell, Florida State Seminoles. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Florida State at NC State will force the winner into major ACC Atlantic division title discussions.

In a clash of 4-1 teams, only one can be worthy of being in serious Charlottean discussions between unranked Florida State and No. 14 NC State.

The Seminoles seem to have really turned a corner under Mike Norvell. They started the season out 4-0 before suffering a tough loss at home to divisional foe Wake Forest. Good teams lose to Wake Forest all the time now that Dave Clawson has that thing humming in Winston-Salem, so that’s not really an issue. As for NC State, the Wolfpack just lost in the Textile Bowl to Clemson…

With this being essentially a must-win for both teams, stakes will be incredibly high in Raleigh.

Florida State vs. NC State will showcase the winner’s ACC Atlantic legitimacy

Up until last year, Clemson had run train on the ACC Atlantic. Although the Tigers were able to keep the winning streak alive over Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons remain a top-25 caliber team under Clawson’s guidance. The Deacs only narrowly lost to Clemson at Death Valley two weeks ago. The reigning ACC Atlantic champions have proven their worth. Now is the time for these two…

For Florida State, a win on the road at Carter-Finley will get the Noles back in the top 25. It would also signify Norvell is undoubtedly the guy in Tallahassee. Unless it goes to hell in a hand basket in the second half of the season, he will be getting a fourth year, and then some, to lead this diminished former ACC power. Let’s be real. College football is better when Florida State is good.

As for NC State, a home win over Florida State will give them staying power in the teens in the AP Top 25. While losing the head-to-head tiebreaker over Clemson hurts them considerably, the Wolfpack can get to Charlotte if the Tigers slip up twice in conference play. Unfortunately, the Tigers also own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Wake Forest, so they might run the gauntlet.

Frankly, the winner of this game will benefit greatly in terms of overall perception. They will be viewed as a top-three team in the ACC, alongside Clemson and Wake Forest. Although North Carolina has a shot at crashing the party down the line, keep in mind that the Tar Heels play in by far and a way the weaker of the two ACC divisions. They will need to win out to prove it, though.

Ultimately, there is a lot to be gained by the winner in this ACC Atlantic game. Although they may not get to Charlotte, they are certainly going to be in the mix for the New Year’s Six, alongside the likes of Wake Forest, of course. If NC State does beat Wake this season, it might be the Wolfpack. Should Florida State defeat rivals Clemson and Miami this season, then it will definitely be them.

No matter how you look at it, the team who wins in Raleigh will have earned its ACC legitimacy.

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