Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Saturday, October 8, 2011
Halftime: Wake Forest 16, Florida State 14

By Heather Dinich

The surprise in this game is NOT that Wake Forest is winning. If you have been paying attention to the Deacs, you'd know they're a better team this year and that Tanner Price might be the most improved quarterback in the conference.

No, in this game, the big surprise has been Florida State's quarterbacks.

All week Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher talked about starter EJ Manuel's progress, and at Monday's weekly news conference, Manuel talked about how good he felt. The fact that Manuel even showed up at the news conference this week was a step in the right direction. All signs pointed to an expected start for Manuel, and he warmed up with Clint Trickett and took snaps with the first team during warm-ups before the game.

And then Trickett started.

And he finally looked like a freshman.

And then ... THEN Manuel enters the game, only to lead the Noles on a six-play, 88-yard drive that ended in a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene.

If Manuel could come in and look THAT good on his first drive back in about three weeks, why wasn't he in the starting lineup? It's a question that will obviously have to wait until the postgame news conference, but one that has to have Florida State fans scratching their heads. Manuel gave Florida State just the spark it needed, right when it needed it.

Wake Forest has minus-1 yard rushing in this game, but it is still winning because of Florida State's three turnovers and one costly penalty early that led to a field goal.

Price is the real deal, and in one half, Wake Forest has probably made believers out of a lot of ACC fans. At least it should have. Florida State, though, can't afford another ACC loss, especially to another Atlantic Division opponent. Manuel knows what it takes to beat the Deacs -- he's done it before.

It's time Fisher gave him the opportunity to do it again.