ACC upset alert - N.C. State over Florida State

By Jeff Frank
Sports Analyst, Inside the Numbers

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    Jeff Frank

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    Philadelphia, PA ( - Jameis Winston is back in uniform for the Florida State Seminoles, but that won't help them defeat North Carolina State, a team flying under the radar on the college football landscape.

    The Wolfpack are getting zero respect in Las Vegas as they are 19-point underdogs at home against the defending champions. The last time they hosted Florida State (2012), they were 16-point underdogs and upset the third-ranked Seminoles, 17-16.

    In fact, N.C. State has won six of the last 13 meetings, and the Wolfpack were underdogs in all six wins. Furthermore, they are 11-2 against the spread versus Florida State in those 13 meetings.

    This year's squad could be the team's best since 2010, a year the Wolfpack also defeated Florida State at home, 28-24. That season, they won nine games, including a victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl.

    N.C. State is off to its best start since that 2010 campaign with four consecutive wins. After shaky victories over Georgia Southern and Old Dominion (two underrated squads), coach Dave Doreen's team has turned it around with dominating wins over South Florida (49-17) and Presbyterian (42-0). This contest will be their toughest test to date, but it is not as if Florida State is setting the world on fire winning by 40 points per game.

    The 3-0 Seminoles have won each of their three contests despite a combined 93 points scored. For comparison purposes, they put up 157 points in their first three games last season. They also have allowed 60 points this year after giving up just 26 in their first three 2013 matchups.

    Clemson had ample opportunities to win last week's battle, but its kicker missed a pair of field goals and the center made a costly poor snap when the Tigers had the ball at Florida State's 1-yard line. It is true Winston was not around to help Florida State's offense, but the defense allowed over 400 yards, something it did not do last season until the national championship game against Auburn.

    Speaking of Winston, he has not played a snap since late in the third quarter on Sept. 6. Don't forget, he threw two interceptions in the first half versus Oklahoma State in Week 1, so his timing might be a little off.

    The Wolfpack have had four games under their belts with their new quarterback, former Florida signal caller Jacoby Brissett. Even though Brissett has not faced the toughest schedule to date, at least he has experience against the Seminoles when he played with the Gators.

    N.C. State has enough offensive firepower to stay with Florida State and cover the inflated spread.

    Take North Carolina State plus 19 points in the first of two five-star plays.

    The second key selection this week pits Louisiana Tech against Auburn. It seems every other week Louisiana Tech is a major play and Week 5 is no exception.

    The Bulldogs, who are unbeaten against the spread versus FBS competition this season, come off one of their poorest efforts in years - a 30-27 loss to Northwestern State. It was their first loss to an FCS school since 2000. Take away that contest and they are 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS with a cover as 33- point underdogs against Oklahoma in Week 1 followed by SU wins over Louisiana and North Texas.

    Louisiana Tech is getting 33 points once again, this time from Auburn. The Tigers are back home after an emotional road win over Kansas State in a matchup of two Top 25 teams. Next week, they host LSU, the only team they failed to beat during last year's regular season.

    Back in 2012, Auburn needed overtime to beat ULM the week before playing LSU, and last year, the Tigers failed to cover against Mississippi State prior to taking on LSU.

    Auburn might be caught looking ahead for a third straight season. Louisiana Tech will be fired up after its dismal performance. The Bulldogs are not as bad as they looked last week and will cover the large spread.

    Take Louisiana Tech plus 33 points.


    The lone three-star play comes from the Mountain West Conference as Boise State takes on Air Force in Colorado Springs.

    Boise State has defeated Air Force the last two years but failed to cover each game. Back in 2011, the Broncos were ranked fifth in the country and came into the contest off a 50-point blowout victory over Colorado State. Meanwhile, the Falcons had dropped a 14-point decision as seven-point favorites over San Diego State. The Broncos, favored by 30 points, defeated Aif Force by only 11 points and outgained the Falcons by just 15 yards!

    Last year, the Broncos led by only four points at halftime but won, 42-20. Still, they failed to cover the 24-point line against a team that would finish 2-10.

    This time around, the Falcons are on their way up in the standings with two wins in their first three games. They crushed Nicholls State by 28 points and won at Georgia State, 48-38. In between, they lost at Wyoming when the Cowboys scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass inside the final minute of play.

    After ranking just 12th nationally in rushing a year ago, Air Force is back to its normal self, holding down the fifth spot heading into Week 5. Even though Boise State is second nationally in rushing defense, that position will surely fall after taking on Air Force's option attack.

    The Broncos have had trouble with not only the Falcons but also against another option team in New Mexico. Under Bob Davie, the Lobos almost upset heavily favored Boise State in 2012, falling by only three points as 24-point underdogs. Last year, they were 36-point dogs and covered the spread once again.

    Boise State has won and covered its last three games. However, this is a prime spot for the Broncos to go down, particularly with a trip to rival Nevada coming up on Oct. 4.

    Take Air Force plus 13 points.


    Take Appalachian State +18 (Georgia Southern) and Vanderbilt +17 (Kentucky)


    Take Fresno State -5.5 (New Mexico), UTEP +26 (Kansas State), Bowling Green -4.5 (Massachusetts), Washington +7.5 (Stanford), Arkansas +8 (Texas A&M), Southern Miss +9.5 (Rice) and Syracuse +12 (Notre Dame).


    My overall record stands at 41-29 after a 10-6 mark in Week 4. The headline game lost, bringing the five-star plays below .500 at 2-3. Both three-star selections were victorious once again, so they currently stand at 6-1. The two-star choices went 6-2 for a four-week total of 15-15. The one-star plays went 2-3 for an 18-10 mark.

    1) Florida State, 101
    1-T) Alabama, 101
    1-T) Ole Miss, 101
    4) Georgia, 100.5
    5) Oklahoma, 100
    6-T) Oregon, 99.5
    6-T) Auburn, 99.5
    8) Baylor, 99
    9) Michigan State, 97
    10) Texas A&M, 96.5
    11-T) Wisconsin, 95
    11-T) Ohio State, 95

    (The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)

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