Winless Florida State hits road for ACC opener at Wake Forest

At least Florida State has been in a couple of close games.

That might be about the only thing the Seminoles can build on when they take on Wake Forest on Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Wake Forest (2-0) hasn’t been tested much in a pair of lopsided home results against teams that didn’t even play during the 2020 season.

“The challenge of the season is to be able to take a big step forward against Florida State,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “We are where we need to be. When the schedule comes out, you look at it and say ‘Hey, we have to get those first two.’ We did that and from now on it’s going to be a heavyweight fight every single week.”

So the stakes rise when the teams open ACC play in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Florida State (0-2) has lost on the last play of each of its two games. Notre Dame’s field goal in overtime ended the opener, while Jacksonville State’s stunning touchdown as time expired sunk the

Seminoles again.

Coming off that 20-17 setback, now they head off for their first road game.

“This team has talent. They have heart,” second-year Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “They truly believe in what we can accomplish, but we have to go execute.”

Florida State is 0-2 for the second year in a row. Amid apologies to the fan base, Norvell has tried to emphasize the need to move forward.

“Correct the things that have to be corrected to play to the level we’re capable of playing,” he said.

The Seminoles might have a better grip on how they’ll react in pressure situations than is the case with Wake Forest.

“It’s really hard to have a read on our team,” Clawson said. “I think we’re going to find out a lot more in the next two, three, four weeks.”

This week, Florida State tries to snap a string of five consecutive losses in ACC openers.

Even with that, the matchup looks intriguing for Wake Forest.

“It’s one of those games you have circled since the beginning of the season,” Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman said.

Wake Forest has scored 10 touchdowns and two field goals on the 18 possessions with Hartman taking snaps in games against Old Dominion and Norfolk State. The Demon Deacons had the luxury of using lots of backups in those matchups.

“You find out a lot more about your team when you get into one of those close games in the fourth quarter,” Clawson said. “So we have to get better. We know we have to get better.”

Florida State is still sorting out its quarterback situation between Game 1 starter Jordan Travis and last week’s starter, McKenzie Milton.

Florida State and Wake Forest are Atlantic Division rivals within the ACC, but the teams didn’t meet last year because of pandemic-related revised schedules. Wake Forest won 22-20 at home in the 2019 meeting.