Florida State's in town, just in time for the State Fair, which means if you've got tickets to the game and you haven't left yet, plan on missing the opening kick. If you look up the term "Clusterf*ck" in the dictionary (I guess it'd have to be one with naughty words), there should be an aerial picture of State's annual football game during the State Fair.
Seriously, is it that hard to plan a football game around a State Fair? Surely N.C.'s Department of Agriculture plans these things out more than a freaking year in advance. I know they haven't been the most well-run state agency in recent memory, but c'mon, fax a copy of the fair schedule for the next decade to John Swofford at some point, will you?
Anyway...back to happy thoughts. Like how State is going to win tonight.
I'm not going to blow anyone's mind with my reason for optimism this week. It's the three players we regained off the injury report this week: Alan Michael Cash, Curtis Crouch and a "probable" appearance by all-everything Nate Irving.
With Cash and Irving back in the lineup, State's defense looks completely rejuvenated on paper than without them. Suddenly you've got a skilled defensive tackle exploding up the middle, occupying blockers, instantly making the job of defensive ends Wille Young and Jeff Rieskamp easier. With Irving patrolling the middle you get a hard-hitting linebacker than defends the pass probably better than any linebacker in the league. Having those two back on defense will make a world of difference tonight.
Having Crouch back isn't as big a boost as Cash or Irving, but in a season where depth is at a premium, having another Big Ugly in the trenches will be key to keeping FSU's front seven out of the State backfield. No matter how good your starting five linemen are, if you can't give them some rest at some point during the night they'll be useless when it counts in the fourth quarter. Crouch gives them another skilled blocker at right guard.
Another reason I'm optimistic tonight is that it's Thursday night. The weather's great. The fans will be pumped. I think there will be enough energy in the stadium to keep everyone psyched all game long.
If the ball bounces the right way for State early and the Pack gets ahead at some point or is within striking distance at the end, there's no reason to believe that State can't pull out a big W at home when they need it most.