In a classic trap game against a bad NC State team, Florida State was yet again outscored in the second half—at one point down 17-0 in the second half. Nevertheless, Florida State did not overlook the Wolfpack, instead putting the game out of reach with a 35-0 first quarter and coasting to the finish from there. The Noles' starting offense only played a single series in the second half, while the starting defense (along with key backups) did not play at all in the second frame.
This was surprising for some, as conventional wisdom suggests Florida State needs style points in order to pass Oregon in the polls if it is to play for a national championship. Jimbo Fisher, however, disagreed, believing it better to avoid injuries and have his team as fresh as possible for a top-10 tilt against rival Miami next week.
"I'm not going to go out there and embarrass this game," Fisher said afterwards, before adding that he considered putting Winston and the first offense back on the field after NC State had some success early in the third quarter but ultimately thought better of it.
That decision notwithstanding, Fisher had no interest in pulling his foot off the accelerator, though the Seminoles' backups had less success than he had hoped for. "[I] still think we kept our foot on the gas [with the backups in the game]," Fisher explained, "we just got sloppy and let some opportunities get away. ... [I'm] disappointed we allowed that to happen."
That said, this kind of blowout in which the backups get ample opportunity to compete against another team's starters is reminiscent of the great Florida State teams during the Dynasty years. These are program-building games, as the backups are able to gain valuable experience that pays dividends in the future.
In addition, as Fisher observed in the postgame interview, by this point in the season, the more you can preserve your starters' legs and keep them fresh, the better—not to mention the injury risk brought by every additional play.
But the final factor in this decision was probably the most important: with Miami upcoming, Fisher and the coaching staff made the decision that a few extra points in this game were worth less than putting the wood to a rival in a top-10 matchup on national television next week.
Better to go into the Miami game as healthy and fresh as possible than to take the risk of keeping the starters in the game for a few extra points against NC State. That backup players like Kermit Whitfield, Jesus Wilson, and many young defenders got the opportunity to get valuable game experience is all the more reason for Fisher to make that decision.
In any case, if anyone had questions about how this Florida State team would be able to handle success or whether the program would yet again fall prey to a classic trap scenario, this team has convincingly demonstrated that it does not lose focus or interest until it is up by at least 30 points. If nothing else, that's a good sign for Florida State fans moving forward.