NC State Wolfpack at Wake Forest Demon Deacons Preview

NC State has had a week off to lick their wounds and get their heads together in preparation for this week’s trip to Winston-Salem.

This game is a curse and a blessing because the Wolfpack need a win, and there’s no better team to get over a funk against than Wake Forest. The curse lies in the fact that State got their bye before a game that is easier to prep for than most.

NC State Wolfpack at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
(4-2, 0-2 ACC)                 (3-4, 1-3 ACC)   

Line: NC State -9.5, O/U: 46


I’m sure Coach Dave Doeren and staff would never admit to such a thing, and they shouldn’t. You take each game as it is, and never underestimate anyone. But I’ll bet they would’ve loved that bye week before Clemson or Florida State instead.

Schedule aside, NC State should be thankful for any break they can catch. After two less than inspiring performances to open the ACC, State needs to go on the road and take care of business.

North Carolina took care of business last week against Wake, showing that the Deacons are still a team that can be throttled. Two weeks ago Wake stunned Boston College 3-0. Just last week the Deacons were back to getting pummeled, losing to the Tar Heels 50 – 14.

Wake has been competitive all season until last week when they were decimated in Chapel Hill. Given that Wake owns a win over Boston College, they are currently in fifth in the Atlantic, while NC State sits in sixth place, due to zero ACC wins.

Must Win

This is a must win for NC State because two of the next three games are against Clemson and Florida State. If NC State wants the bowl bid that seemed to be a given a month ago, they are going to have to get one on the road this week.

Getting to five wins will take away some pressure that’s built up in the two losses this month.

Wake Forest won’t be any kind of pushover. They hung in with FSU and Indiana. The latter should’ve beaten the defending national champion Ohio State.

FSU is taking care of business in its own matter, much like last season. Wake Forest hung in with the Seminoles mostly because FSU’s star running back, Dalvin Cook, had only two carries before exiting the game with an injury. On those two carries, Cook had 94 yards before leaving.

Wake will hope for a performance like that one and keep the game close against the Wolfpack. Losing to Florida State 24 – 16 is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Deacons aren’t after moral victories.

A road game at high noon on what should be a glorious afternoon will bring plenty of black and gold out to root on the home team. Getting to .500 would be a huge deal for Wake as they finish the year with Louisville, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Duke. This may be the last realistic shot Wake Forest has to win.

This will be a momentum-swinging win for the victors. Clinging to the middle of the Atlantic is preferable to being an afterthought.

Run Games

Wake Forest’s run defense will be the main test for NC State as the Pack run game has been stifled for the past two games, mustering 202 yards and one rushing touchdown. Not everyone can have a Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook getting 200 yards per game, but NC State needs to prove it can run the ball against conference opponents.

If NC State can’t run it, then passing may prove to be an even tougher alternative. Wake is ranked 14th in the nation in passing defense, allowing about 169 yards per game. Jacoby Brissett will need to use his feet, and get in the mix with Matt Dayes so that obvious passing downs don’t come along often.

NC State is a few notches ahead of Wake Forest in the same category at number eight (147.7 per game). Both teams will struggle to find the end zone if the run games are anemic.

NC State comes into this game ranked number one in the nation in time of possession. If they can run it, they will keep the ball. Getting back to the early season formula of keeping the ball out of their opponent’s hands will keep the Deacons at bay, if State can execute.


I haven’t put any score predictions in print since UNC made a fool of me against the Wolfpack last season.

I will venture into crystal ball territory this week and give the Pack the nod at 24-20. I’m taking the under and thinking State does not cover the spread. If this one gets into the 30’s or 40’s on the scoreboard then Wake will have a better chance. Given what both teams have done lately in the offensive category, I don’t see that happening.

For NC State, they will need to get back on pace for 40 plus points a game going forward. With Louisville and Virginia Tech slowing them down, three and outs became the norm. State needs to take advantage of the opponent and get some sustained drives going again. This is not Eastern Kentucky, but it’s still a team that needs to be handled. NC State wouldn’t be the first upset that Wake pulls this year, but they can’t afford it. Going 0-3 in the ACC would spell disaster for the Pack.

I think this game will get NC State back on track, get them in the win column in conference, and put them in line for their sixth win at Chestnut Hill, or Syracuse. Fall at the Deacons, and they could be stuck at four wins for a while.
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