Wolfpack Have No. 17 Seminoles' Number
Wednesday, October 4, 2006; 7:24 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Chuck Amato won't say whether he still has a Florida State playbook tucked away somewhere or any other secrets that have helped North Carolina State prepare for the Seminoles.
Regardless, it sure seems that way heading into Thursday night's matchup.
N.C. State is the only Atlantic Coast Conference team with four wins against Florida State since the Seminoles joined the league 14 years ago. Three have come under Amato, now in his seventh season at his alma mater after spending the previous 18 years at FSU as an assistant to Bobby Bowden.
Now, as the No. 17 Seminoles arrive in Raleigh to face the Wolfpack, Amato is hoping to keep that success going against his former mentor and longtime friend _ even as he's quick to say that his time in Tallahassee, Fla., really doesn't matter much.
"It sure didn't help that first time we played," Amato said of the Wolfpack's 58-14 loss to the Seminoles in 2000, his first season.
No matter the reason, the Wolfpack (2-2, 1-0 ACC) has always found a way to match up with the Seminoles (3-1, 1-1) under Amato. N.C. State was the first ACC team to beat Florida State on the road in 2001, then followed that with a 17-7 win here the following season.
Last year, Andre Brown ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wolfpack past the Seminoles 20-15 on the road, becoming the first ACC team to win twice at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Even the recent losses have been close, with N.C. State losing in double-overtime on the road in 2003 and 17-10 here in '04.
Amato admitted this week that it's still "emotional and strange" to face the Seminoles, while Bowden tried to put the focus back on the teams when asked about his former assistant.
"We are playing against North Carolina State," he said. "It really doesn't make a difference who is on the other side."
The Seminoles are more worried instead about coming out of a bye week with a league win. Florida State opened the year by beating league rival Miami, but lost to Clemson 27-20 three weeks ago to drop in the ACC's Atlantic Division standings.
Now it's N.C. State sitting atop the division _ along with unbeaten Wake Forest _ after a last-second win against Boston College two weeks ago.
"Pretty much we can't lose any more ACC games if we want to get to Jacksonville (for the league championship game)," Florida State linebacker Buster Davis said.
N.C. State, meanwhile, is hoping to build off that surprising 17-15 win against the Eagles.
In that game, Daniel Evans made his first career start at quarterback and led the Wolfpack on a 72-yard touchdown drive with no timeouts in the final minute for the win. He finished the drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to John Dunlap with 8.5 seconds left, a score that seemed to at least temporarily restore fan faith in a program known for its up-and-down ways under Amato.
Evans, a redshirt sophomore who threw just 11 passes before starting against the Eagles, knows it could be tougher going against the Seminoles.
"When you're talking about the speed of the game, that'll definitely show against Florida State," Evans said. "Boston College is good, but they're not that type of team. They're a tough, big team. Florida State is big and fast and tough. We've got our work cut out for us."
That said, Evans figures the Wolfpack's recent history in the series offers plenty of reason for confidence.
"I think the team as a whole isn't intimidated when Florida State comes to town," he said. "Playing a big game like that just jacks everybody up more."