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After two cupcakes to open season, FSU ready for first test

Florida State's head coach Jimbo Fisher and his players look on during Saturday's rout of Savannah State.

Florida State's head coach Jimbo Fisher and his players look on during Saturday's rout of Savannah State.

Looking ahead

WHO: Wake Forest (2-0) at Florida State (2-0)

WHAT: Florida State’s ACC opener.

WHEN: Noon Saturday.

WHERE: Tallahassee, Fla.

TV: ESPN.

LINE: Seminoles by 27 1/2 points.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher finds it hard to believe his team is nearly a four-touchdown favorite in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons (2-0) have narrow victories over Liberty and North Carolina, while the fifth-ranked Seminoles (2-0) own lopsided wins against lower-division opponents, including a bizarre weather-shortened 55-0 rout of Savannah State this past Saturday.

“Things will happen quicker, faster, tougher, more physical,” Fisher said. “There’s no doubt Wake has better players.”

Fisher could only shake his head in bemusement when told that oddsmakers had installed the Seminoles as a 27 1/2-point favorite in what amounts to their first real test of the season.

“Where in the world did that come from?” Fisher asked. “I don’t see all that. We need to worry about how we play and what we do.”

The Seminoles have won nine of their last 10 games since losing a 35-30 contest at Wake Forest a year ago. The Demon Deacons have been particularly tough for the Seminoles lately with wins in four of the last six games in the series.

Fisher said he’s particularly worried about Wake Forest’s passing game, led by junior quarterback Tanner Price, who was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in a 28-27 win Saturday against the Tar Heels.

Price, who threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s win against the Seminoles, ran for a pair of touchdowns and completed 27 of 38 passes for a career-high 327 yards against the Tar Heels. His favorite target, Michael Campanaro, had 13 catches for 164 yards and was the ACC’s pick as its Receiver of the Week.

“He and Price have a great communication connection,” said Fisher, who is hoping the improved competition brings out the best in his club. “Sometimes when you play better players, more comes out of you.

“They have a very experienced team, a lot of redshirt juniors and seniors. As you get older, you get older and smarter. That’s how they play.”

Fisher said Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe’s system of redshirting many of his first year players has paid dividends for the Demon Deacons.

“I call it the Butler (Ind.) syndrome (like in basketball),” Fisher said. “A lot of older guys who have played and play together very well and understand the system, been there and know how to win.”

Florida State ranks second nationally in most defensive categories and quarterback EJ Manuel is sixth in passing efficiency, although he’s played a total of a little more than three quarters.

Manuel, who injured a shoulder in a loss to Oklahoma last year, played just the second half of last year’s loss to Wake Forest.