Unranked Seminoles Favored Over Deacons
Friday, November 10, 2006; 5:24 PM
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Wake Forest is in first-place in the ACC's Atlantic Division, having already matched the school record for victories. Florida State is trying to salvage a disappointing season.
Still, the unranked Seminoles are favored to beat the 18th-ranked Demon Deacons on Saturday, and that doesn't surprise Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe.
"It's great to be in the Top 25, but the downside of that is there is a bigger target on our chest," Grobe said. "Any time you play in Tallahassee and come away with a win, you are very fortunate."
The Demon Deacons (8-1, 4-1) have lost 14 straight league games to the Seminoles by an average of 30 points and they haven't won in Tallahassee since 1959.
But it's an opportunity Wake Forest players relish as they try for the school's first nine-win season.
"We like the fight and showing people that we deserve respect," center Steve Justice said. "It's a lot of fun going out like that and surprising people."
Grobe's veteran team is trying to keep its surprising drive toward an appearance in next month's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game going, while the conference defending champion Seminoles (5-4, 3-4) are trying just to get bowl eligible.
"With our record we sure can't afford to think we're something," said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who is after his 365th career victory.
The main difference between Wake Forest and Florida State this season has been the ability to win close games.
Wake has won its four league games by a total of 17 points while the Seminoles have lost their four conference games by a sum of 19.
Wake Forest freshman quarterback Riley Skinner from Jacksonville, Fla., leads the ACC in passing efficiency, completing 68.6 percent for 1,121 yards and six touchdowns.
Xavier Lee will make his third straight start at quarterback for the Seminoles, who should be bolstered by the return of receiver De'Cody Fagg and linebacker Geno Hayes from injuries.
The Seminoles, who have a difficult time running the ball, are likely to try and take advantage of 6-foot-6 wideout Greg Carr and the 6-foot-3 Fagg against Wake Forest's smaller defensive backs. Wake Forest's pass defense is ranked last in the league.
Meanwhile, Florida State named three military veterans on its team to share captain's responsibilities to observe the Veterans' Day game.
They are Eric James, a reserve 34-year-old tailback who spent eight years on active duty; tight end Josh Johnson who won the Purple Heart serving with the Army in Iraq; and linebacker Jeremy Franklin, a five-year Navy veteran and the only one among the three walk-ons who has seen game action.