NC State (0-1) at Connecticut (1-0) Sept. 8, 12:00, SNY
Here's The Deal: NC State travels to East Hartford for an ACC-Big East challenge that's important to both programs. The Wolfpack will be looking to rebound from a crushing Friday night defeat at the hands of Tennessee, 35-21, that's going to downgrade once-lofty 2012 expectations. The program needs to correct the problems that persisted in the opener or else it'll be doomed to start 0-2 for the first time in five years. Connecticut kicked off the second year of the Paul Pasqualoni era by blanking Massachusetts, 37-0, in an impressive all-around performance. A year after floundering south of bowl eligibility, the Huskies are determined to sneak up on the rest of the Big East and contend for a second crown in the last three years. A win over the Pack could provide the propulsion they need to reach new heights in 2012.
Why NC State Might Win: At the most important position on the field, quarterback, the Pack will hold a sizable advantage on the Huskies. Mike Glennon is a next-level hurler, with the arm and the know-how to challenge a very good Connecticut secondary. The hosts, on the contrary, employ Chandler Whitmer, who's in just his second game removed from the junior college ranks. The transfer will struggle to beat a David Amerson-led defensive backfield that's experienced, talented and eager to bounce back from a difficult opener. With the Huskies forced into a monotone condition, State can concentrate its resources to stopping RB Lyle McCombs.
Why Connecticut Might Win: The Huskies will make a strong case this year for the toughest defense in the Big East. Sure, Massachusetts isn't NC State, but the Minutemen produced just three first downs and 59 total yards on Thursday night. Connecticut boasts a veteran defense that collapses the pocket with ends Trevardo Williams and Jesse Joseph, and clogs running lanes with linebackers Sio Moore, Yawin Smallwood and Jory Johnson. The D is fundamentally sound, well-coached and unlikely to suffer breakdowns. Glennon is protected by a marginal O-line that's liable to get schooled on Saturday afternoon.
What To Watch Out For: Glennon has a bright future, but his senior year could hinge on the play of his receivers. Quinton Payton stood out among the wide receivers in Atlanta, while tight ends Asa Watson and Mario Carter made a couple of nice grabs as well. Connecticut, though, features one of the game's most underrated back sevens in terms of pass coverage. Payton and teammate Tobais Palmer will be in for a showdown with Huskies corners Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz, a gifted pair of defenders. If Connecticut can neutralize Glennon, it will essentially cut the head off the NC State program.
What Will Happen: A good defense and running game is often the remedy for a deficiency at quarterback. NC State has Glennon, but Connecticut will counter with a D that's superior to the one visiting Rentschler Field. The Huskies will apply pressure to the backfield and stick to the Pack receivers to gain control of the game. McCombs will take care of the rest, grinding out 85 yards and a score to help guide the Huskies to a close and very important win for the program.
CFN Prediction: Connecticut 23 … NC State 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) NC State -6 O/U: 49
Must Watch Rating (5 – Phineas & Ferb, 1 – Steve Harvey): 2
CFN's Take: NC State vs. UCONN
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