Florida State received as much of an offseason push as anybody, as it rose above Clemson in most preseason projections and had high hopes of landing in the College Football Playoff.
Through just two games, Florida State's playoff hopes have become an unlikely long shot with a 0-2 record.
In their first game since the Sept. 2 loss to Alabama, the No. 12 Seminoles lost at home to N.C. State 27-21 on Saturday. Because of Hurricane Irma, Florida State's game with UL Monroe was canceled, and the rivalry showdown with Miami was postponed until Oct. After the long, unplanned layoff, Saturday's game became the first start in the career of true freshman quarterback James Blackman, who was forced into the lineup because of Deondre Francois' season-ending injury.
Blackman showed off enticing potential, completing 22 of 38 passes for 278 yards and a TD. However, the Seminoles converted only 4 of 14 third downs, committed 11 penalties and had trouble blocking star N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb, who ended his big afternoon by spitting on FSU's midfield logo.
Do you need to ask who it is? Bradley Chubb with yet another big play to back the Noles back 9 yards, holding FSU to a FG chance pic.twitter.com/d2y82h5RE0- Pack Pride (@PackPride) September 23, 2017
Chubb aplogized for the postgame spitting incident afterward.
The hope for Florida State was that it would be able to run the ball well enough behind freshman Cam Akers and, most importantly, play dominant defense to take pressure off Blackman and escape with a home win against a dangerous Wolfpack team. But N.C. State took an early lead and forced Florida State to play from behind, with the freshman quarterback against the excellent Wolfpack D-line.
N.C. State led 10-0 after the first quarter thanks to a field goal and a two-yard Jaylen Samuels touchdown. That lead ended up being 17-7 at halftime because of a 71-yard Jakobi Meyers touchdown in which he beat FSU star Derwin James in the open field, then flipped into the end zone.
Early in the second half, Blackman hit Auden Tate for a 51-yard gain deep into N.C. State territory, but Tate left the game with a shoulder injury and Florida State settled for a field goal. Tate's injury was a big blow to the FSU passing game, as he had nine catches for 138 yards and a TD.
The Wolfpack got their final points on a 14-yard Samuels touchdown catch from Ryan Finley with 9:16 left, and they held on to win despite a safety on a bad snap and a Seminoles field goal late. They stopped Florida State on a fourth-and-11 with 5:14 to play, and on the Wolfpack's final possession, they ended the game with 15-yard Nyheim Hines run on third-and-seven.
It ended a frustrating day for Florida State in which it settled for four field goals (on five attempts) and racked up a ton of penalties.
The upset was the type of win N.C. State had long been waiting for. The Wolfpack struggled to earn a breakthrough win the past few years under Dave Doeren, including blowing a golden opportunity at Clemson last year. With an experienced team entering 2017 with sleeper hopes, N.C. State stumbled out of the gate by losing to South Carolina.
Now, the Wolfpack own a huge win to open their ACC season while giving Florida State little hope of meeting its preseason expectations.
NC State's 27-21 win at No. 12 FSU drops the Noles to 0-2 for the first time since 1989, when Brett Favre & Southern Miss knocked them off. pic.twitter.com/SbU65jRc9G- ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 23, 2017
Five years ago, N.C. State dealt a massive blow to Florida State's championship hopes by upsetting the No. 3 Seminoles 17-16 at home. Until Saturday, it was the last time the Wolfpack beat a top-25 team. In his fifth season, Doeren has finally pulled off a similar feat.