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Wake Forest’s mini-dominance over FSU a distant memory

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Perhaps no ACC opponent best exemplified how far the Florida State football program had fallen than the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. From 2006-08, the Seminoles went 0-3 against Wake Forest.

Two of those losses came at Doak Campbell Stadium, including a 30-0 shellacking in 2006 that sent the alumni and boosters into a frenzy. It was the first shutout at home in Bobby Bowden’s long career in Tallahassee.

While giving Wake proper props, Florida State simply does not lose like that to Wake Forest. Especially at home. After a 41-28 loss in Winston-Salem in 2007, the Deacons were back in 2008. Again, FSU failed to score a touchdown, losing 12-3.

Bowden won his last encounter with Wake Forest in 2009 and Jimbo Fisher won his first the next year. Following another debacle on the road in 2011 (giving Wake four wins in six tries), Fisher and the Seminoles have restored the FSU program and their dominance over Wake Forest.

Over the past three seasons, Florida State is an emphatic 3-0 against Wake. FSU has not allowed a touchdown and won all three games by a combined score of 154-6.

The series continues on Saturday when Wake hosts the 11th- ranked Seminoles at BB&T Stadium in Winston-Salem. Florida State is an 18-point favorite.

FSU will be fresh, having last played September 18 in a 14-0 victory at Boston College. The Seminole defense looked quite sharp, but the offense, especially the line, still has work to do.

“Right now, I think (the bye week) came at the right time, just because of where we are at and what we have to do,” said Fisher. “We’re not where we want to be, but we’re right where I thought we could be.”

Florida State will encounter a Wake Forest team coming off a 31-24 Homecoming loss to Indiana last Saturday. Despite having a chance to pull out the victory, second-year Coach Dave Clawson, like Fisher, has concerns with his young offensive line.

Clawson played a true freshman, Kendall Hinton, at quarterback. Hinton filled in admirably for the starter, Jacksonville native John Wolford, who was injured. Wolford may play on Saturday.

Whether Clawson stays awake worrying about Dalvin Cook and the FSU offense is another matter. Going into the Indiana game, Wake was ranked in the top 10 nationally in several defensive categories.

But after Indiana put up nearly 500 yards of offense behind a 230-pound running back and solid quarterback play, those rankings fell sharply. Will a smaller, but quicker, Cook have the chance to show his speed against that defense?

Which Everett Golson will Wake Forest see? Will Mario Pender’s absence due to a collapsed lung be felt in the FSU backfield?

Goal number one for the Deacons is to find the end zone, which they have not been able to do against FSU in four years. There is no comparison between the defense Wake faced last week and the one they will see on Saturday.

Florida State football is now back to where it was in the 1990s. That is not good news for Wake Forest, or any other ACC team.

The Seminoles look to improve on their all-time series lead against Wake Forest, which stands at 26-6 with one tie. Game time is 3:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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