Wake has given the Pack problems in recent years, but this Pack team is decidedly better than previous iterations and this Deacon team is definitely the worst in a while under head coach Jim Grobe. The Pack also remains right in the thick of the Atlantic division title hunt, while Wake is trying to stay out of the basement in the Coastal.
On paper, it's the Pack's easiest conference game of the year. But as all Pack fans know, weird things can happen on the field. On to the numbers.
Pack Offense against Wake Defense
|Category||NC State Offense||Wake Forest Defense|
|Points per Game||32.6 (33)||38.8 (112)|
|Yards per Play||5.4 (62)||6.0 (90)|
|Yards per Pass Attempt||7.0 (66)||7.5 (86)|
|Yards per Rush||3.6 (95)||4.9 (101)|
|3rd Down Conversion %||43.0% (38)||46.6% (110)|
|Turnovers per game||1.9 (78)||1.3 (97)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||75% (104)||90% (110)|
The Pack offense took a hit statically after the Clemson game, which isn't a surprise to anyone who watched or even heard about the train wreck that was most of that game for the Pack offense. As a result the Pack's overall numbers, particularly its rushing offense, have fallen to season lows. The Pack needs to be able to run the ball more effectively if it wants to win out and go the ACC Championship. Red zone efficiency remains the biggest problem for the Pack, who could easily chalk all three losses up to missed opportunities inside the 20-yard line.
Luckily, the Wake Forest defense is the cure for all offensive struggles. Defensively, the Deacons are all kinds of terrible. They can't stop the run or the pass, they don't create turnovers and they all but escort teams into the endzone once they get in the red zone. NC State should be able to move the ball and score a lot of points on Saturday.
Pack Defense against Wake Offense
|Category||NC State Defense||Wake Forest Offense|
|Points per Game||22.7 (50)||25.1 (75)|
|Yards per Play||5.3 (52)||5.0 (90)|
|Yards per Pass Attempt||6.9 (58)||5.9 (107)|
|Yards per Rush||4.0 (49)||4.4 (49)|
|3rd Down Conversion %||34.4% (18)||35.7% (92)|
|Turnovers per game||2.4 (13)||1.8 (68)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||79% (45)||82% (60)|
While the offense struggled, the Pack defense turned in its best performance of the season (Western Carolina excluded) against the Tigers. Clemson scored two touchdowns, but both of those drives started inside the Pack's 40-yard line. The Pack allowed less than four yards a play, less than two yards a carry in fact, and forced three turnovers. Had the offense not put them in a hole so often, the defense might have pitched a shutout.
The Wake offense is good in comparison to its defense, but that's basically where the praise stops. They have an effective running game at times, but the passing game has been ugly. Tanner Price has entrenched himself as the starter but had an ugly game his last outing, tossing four picks to Boston College in a 23-13 loss at home. If the opportunistic Pack defense can take advantage of a few Price mistakes, it could be a long day for the freshman quarterback.
The road to victory
This game is as simple as not getting in your own way. The Pack is superior to the Deacons on both sides of the ball and unless only fluke special teams plays and a lot of Pack turnovers is going to swing this game in Wake's favor. This is one of those games you could classify as a trap game, with rival Carolina looming next weekend, but the combination of last week's performance and senior day at Carter-Finley makes it unlikely that the Pack will overlook the Deacons.