Here's The Deal … Yes, NC State lost a heartbreaker at Clemson last Saturday, but it didn't lose any ground in the close rare for the Atlantic Division. It caught a break that Florida State and Maryland lost on the same day, leaving those three schools with two conferences and three weeks left in the regular season. The Pack held the lead throughout the game in Death Valley, but missed opportunities finally caught up to it in a 14-13 loss. Barring an improbable change of course, Wake Forest appears to be destined to occupy the ACC basement in 2010. The Demon Deacons have been unable to gain any traction on either side of the ball, and have dropped seven straight since beating Duke in Week 2.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: Any hope for an upset will require the Deacons to attack NC State's weakest area, its secondary. The Pack has allowed 14 touchdown passes and ranks No. 10 in ACC pass efficiency defense. As inconsistent as QB Tanner Price has been, it'll be incumbent upon him to give the defense a reason not to stack the line to stop leading rusher Josh Harris. It's not as if the young hurler doesn't have talented weapons, such as Chris Givens and Devon Brown, who are capable of making things happen after the catch.
Why NC State Might Win: The Wolfpack should have no problems bouncing back from a week ago and getting the offense cranking again. Wake Forest hasn't stopped anyone this season, ranking no higher than 100th in run defense, pass efficiency defense, and scoring defense. Not only will QB Russell Wilson will use this week as a glorified scrimmage, but the Pack will also look to get RB Mustafa Greene back on track. The Demon Deacon offensive line will labor to contain the non-stop pressure from a defense that will liberally unleash linebackers Nate Irving, Terrell Manning, and Audie Cole.
What To Watch Out For: The Wolfpack needs Wilson to get back on track in a hurry if the team is going to close strong and win the division. He's made a fair amount of big plays, but he's also making too many mistakes through the air. Once pristine with his passes, he's been forcing too many balls and has been picked at least once in the last six games. He has to improve his accuracy and do a better job of getting his team into the end zone.
What Will Happen: A visit from fading Wake Forest couldn't come at a better time for NC State. The Pack will take full advantage of its good fortune, jumping out to a big lead and never looking back. Wilson will recapture his All-ACC at the expense of the Demon Deacon D, and the defense will make life miserable for Price, getting in his face and tipping his throws all afternoon.
CFN Prediction: NC State 42 … Wake Forest 14 … Line: NC State -19
Must See Rating: The Best That Never Was: The Marcus Dupree Story – 5 … Conan -1 … 2