Here's The Deal … As unpredictability goes, few ACC teams have been streakier this season than NC State. In the last three weeks alone, the Raleigh rollercoaster ride has included an upset of Virginia in Charlottesville, a blanking at the hands of Florida State and a pivotal shutout of rival North Carolina last Saturday. That latest win, the school's first shutout in almost six years, was a turning point for the Wolfpack, which now has an excellent chance of finishing 2011 with a hard-earned December bowl game.
By playing on national TV last Thursday night, Boston College showed a larger than normal audience just how far it has plummeted this season under head coach Frank Spaziani. A week after surprising Maryland in College Park, the Eagles were no match for visiting Florida State, falling by 31 points. The loss ensured that the program would not be participating in the postseason for the first time in more than a decade, a streak that began under current NC State head coach Tom O'Brien.
Why NC State Might Win: Boston College's young offensive line and inability to score will be put to the test by an aggressive, opportunistic Wolfpack D. The Eagles have absolutely no pop, scoring more than 20 points against just one of eight FBS opponents. Enter NC State, which roams the field fast and loose with the likes of S Earl Wolff, CB David Amerson and linebackers Audie Cole, Terrell Manning and Dwayne Maddox. The Pack leads the ACC with 26 turnovers, and will feast on a Chase Rettig-led offense that hasn't executed well all season. Amerson leads the country with nine picks, and will have to be accounted for at all times.
Why Boston College Might Win: The Wolpack is about to hit the road, where it's gone just 1-3 so far this season. The Virginia upset aside, this has been a very different team outside of Raleigh. The offense, in particular, disappeared in games with Florida State and Cincinnati. The Eagles will attempt to keep that trend going with a youthful, Luke Kuechly-led defense that's going to challenge an average NC State front wall. On offense, Boston College will ride the shoulders of RB Rolandan Finch. Yeah, he was bottled up by the Seminoles last Thursday night, but he also erupted for 243 yards and two scores a week earlier versus Maryland.
What To Watch Out For: Since the beginning of October, the Wolfpack has found a running game, thanks to the play of junior James Washington. Over the last five games, he's averaging more than 100 yards per game, basically carrying the load in the shutout of Carolina. When he's working the interior of the Boston College defense, it's going to free up the field a bit for QB Mike Glennon to find one of his favorite targets, receiver T.J. Graham or Tobias Palmer.
What Will Happen: O'Brien is set to make a triumphant return to Boston, helping bring his NC State team the sixth victory it needs to qualify for a bonus game. Over-matched Boston College already has one foot in 2012, even more so now that the postseason is no longer an option. The Pack will frustrate the sputtering Eagles offense, building on last week's blanking of the Tar Heels.
It'll collect a handful of turnovers, and force a bunch of punts, providing the little extra boost that Glennon and the rest of the offense requires.
CFN Prediction: NC State 27 … Boston College 16