Florida State heads to Raleigh, N.C., this week to what has been a house of horrors in years past. Not only does the N.C. State crowd ensure an unpleasant trip for the Seminoles, but the end result in four of their last seven games has been a loss.
This year's trip certainly figures to be different, with a Florida State team looking much improved over the unit that lost 28-24 at N.C. State in 2010. Here are a few key storylines that could determine the game.
1. How will Florida State respond to a hostile environment?
Last week was officially the Seminoles' first road game, but Raymond James Stadium was a split crowd at best. This week, things get tougher, as the raucous crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium will make life difficult for EJ Manuel and the offense. FSU has practiced with pumped-in crowd noise and silent play calls this week to prepare for the test, which FSU coach Jimbo Fisher thinks will force the Seminoles to be more detail-oriented. FSU lost its only game at N.C. State since Fisher took over as coach.
2. Can the Seminoles' defense stifle Mike Glennon?
There's no doubting the talent of the Wolfpack quarterback, but FSU had his number a year ago. In an ugly 34-0 loss in Tallahassee last season, Glennon was just 19-of-34 passing for 130 yards and two interceptions. He figures to be a bit more comfortable this time around, fresh off a game in which he threw for 440 yards and four TDs against Miami, but Glennon also has six interceptions already this season and Florida State will be eager to add to that total.
3. How will the Seminoles' offensive line look?
Entering the season, the O-line was the biggest question mark on the roster for Florida State, but the first four games of the season went smoothly enough to assuage most fans' concerns. Against USF, however, the unit struggled at times, with the offense coming up short on eight-of-nine plays inside the Bulls' 10-yard line and the line allowing USF 10 tackles for loss -- just four fewer than it had allowed combined in the first four games of the season.
4. Can the N.C. State defense find its footing?
In N.C. State's three wins, its defense is allowing 260 yards and fewer than 10 points per game. In its two losses, those numbers jump to 588 yards and 40 points per game. Last week's debacle against Miami was the low point, as the N.C. State secondary allowed a receiver to get behind them with 19 seconds left for the game-winning touchdown, which ended with Miami's fifth passing touchdown of the game.
5. Can Florida State earn some style points?
This certainly won't be Fisher's top priority, but after an ugly win against USF a week ago and two teams securely ahead of the Seminoles in the polls, impressing the voters does matter. Florida State had every opportunity to dominate South Florida, but red-zone problems and a blocked punt made the game close. Fisher will preach increased focus and energy this week, and that should translate into a more eye-catching performance on both sides of the ball.