Dave Doeren has signature win at NC State; things could get dicier for Florida State
Unintentional as it might have been, Bradley Chubb had his Baker Mayfield moment and as a program, NC State finally had one of its own with kind of win its been waiting for under Dave Doeren.
The Wolfpack nocked off 12th-ranked Florida State 27-21 on Saturday in Tallahassee, giving Doeren his first win in 11 chances against Top 25 opponents, and a break through against the Atlantic Division’s upper tier.
As for Chubb, NC State’s talented defensive end, postgame video appeared to show him spitting at midfield after the win, which came with an apology issued from the program’s Twitter account.
“I let my emotions get the best of me,” Chubb said. “I have the utmost respect for Coach (Jimbo) Fisher and Florida State.”
‘… I let my emotions get the best of me. I have the utmost respect for Coach Fisher and Florida State.’
— NC State Football (@PackFootball) September 23, 2017
Its’ a moment that — like Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag into the Block O at the 50-yard-line after knocking off then-No. 2 Ohio State — isn’t soon to be forgotten.
And for the Wolfpack, in many ways, they won’t want it to be.
Chubb forced a fumble, had two sacks and seven tackles in all as NC State’s defense haunted Florida State’s first-time starting quarterback James Blackman. The freshman, who threw for 278 yards, led just one TD drive, a 4-yard strike to Auden Tate in the second quarter.
Other than that, the Seminoles were limited to four Rickiy Aguayo field goals in seven trips to the red zone. They’re only other score came on a fourth-quarter safety.
If finally getting a victory over one the division’s perennial champions weren’t enough of a step forward for NC State under Doeren, now comes the real test.
Doing something with this newfound opportunity.
With Louisville having already fallen to defending national champion Clemson, NC State has positioned itself as the most logical challenger for the division crown.
After a home date with 2-2 Syracuse, the Wolfpack get Lamar Jackson and the 19th-ranked Cardinals (who beat NC State 54-13 a year ago) in Raleigh. Get through that, and the Atlantic could come down to a Nov. 4 date with Clemson.
With the level of play we’ve seen out of Ryan Finley, who threw for 230 yards and two TDs (his fourth straight game with at least 230 yards) and a heralded defense that’s looked much more the part of late.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The last time that NC State won against a Top 25 team came in 2012. That year? They beat the Seminoles, then six weeks later lost to Clemson to start the just-ended skid vs. ranked opponents.
Saturday, they beat Florida State and six weeks from now? Yep, Clemson.
Maybe this NC State team can avoid repeating history — and speaking of history, we’ve entered a bit of if that Fisher and this era of Seminoles football aren’t familiar with.
Florida State, which hadn’t dropped a home opener in eight years, is now 0-2 for the first time since 1989.
The rust of having not played since Sept. 2 due to Hurricane Irma was real, and so was a new QB’s trouble adapting to a big game situation with zero practical game experience.
Blackman hit on just one of his first four passes, and did look better later in hitting on 22 of his 38 attempts, but he could have benefitted from a tune-up game that isn’t going to happen.
Next up, the Seminoles have Wake Forest, a matchup that Florida State has dominated in winning five straight by an average of 33.4 points. But lo and behold, the Demon Deacons are unbeaten after edging Appalachian State on the road.
With No. 14 Miami, unbeaten Duke and Louisville to follow, things could get even more dicey for the Seminoles.
For the record, Florida State hasn’t been 0-3 since 1976, a season it ended at 5-6. But there’s hope in this nugget: the last time it was 0-2, it rattled off 10 straight wins and finished No. 3 in the final polls.
But the Seminoles are in deep and the College Football Playoff hopes they entered the season with are all but evaporated. No team has made the new postseason with that many defeats, but right now for Fisher and Co., it’s about salvaging a season before the wheels fall completely off.
Meanwhile, Doeren and NC State finally had their moment basking in the afterglow of an upset. Now that they’ve broken through, how they build off it with would-be Atlantic contenders Florida State and Louisville taking steps back will be riveting.
Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney and Facebook. His books, ‘Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Braves Stories Ever Told,’ and ‘The Heisman Trophy: The Story of an American Icon and Its Winners.’ are now available.