Reflections on FSU 26, NC State 17

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

You knew Florida State was going to get the Wolfpack's best shot. You knew the Noles were going to get some costly penalties (thanks, Bobby Bowden and Erin Andrews, for that halftime entertainment). But did anyone think both quarterbacks would combine for three touchdowns and no interceptions?

Both had proved their ability to run, but NC State quarterback Russell Wilson and FSU quarterback Christian Ponder took important strides in their passing games Thursday night. Clearly the Pack is a different team with Wilson in there, and Ponder hasn't been too effective throwing the deep ball, but he had throws of 23, 31 and 19 yards. It's like we're watching him grow up every weekend.

The difference in the game was third downs. NC State's defense couldn't get off the field, and its offense couldn't convert (1 of 9).

But how about NC State when guys like Alan-Michael Cash, Nate Irving and Anthony Hill are back? Irving got hurt again in the second quarter, but he and Cash made a dramatic difference on the Pack's D. When everyone is healthy, this is a good football team that more than likely would have been in the mix had it not had a better team in the training room than on the field. Now they're in a competition with Virginia for the best spoiler team in the league.

What does last night's game mean? The Seminoles might be bigger Maryland fans this weekend than anyone actually in Byrd Stadium. FSU notched an important win against an Atlantic Division opponent, but will be haunted by the loss to Wake Forest unless somebody knocks the Deacs off their perch. Maryland has that chance this weekend. Like I said earlier, it wouldn't surprise me if the Terps beat Wake Forest and then lost to NC State.