Here's The Deal: Now that NC State reached rock-bottom, the only way is up for the program and second-year coach Dave Doeren. The Pack disappointed in 2013, going winless in league play for the first time since 1959.
But a new season brings optimism, as well as a solution at quarterback, former Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett. Georgia Southern defeated Brissett’s old Gator teammates last November in an epic shocker.
The Eagles were an FCS squad led by Jeff Monken then. Today, they’re a Sun Belt member, with Willie Fritz in charge.
Why Georgia Southern Might Win: The Eagles carry a three-game winning streak into 2014, including the signature victory in the Swamp. And while they’ll need time to build a genuine FBS roster, they will run the ball with Irving Huggins, and attack a Pack team that has holes along both lines.
Why NC State Might Win: It’ll be an auspicious debut for Brissett, who’s had a solid offseason, and will be facing a revamped Georgia Southern front seven. The reinstatement of RB Shadrach Thornton and the rehabilitation of WR Bryan Underwood provides State with a solid foundation at the skill positions.
Who To Watch Out For: This has to be the year the Pack D-line finally approaches its potential. That’s the hope around Raleigh.
The unit is an ideal mix of veterans, like DE Art Norman and DT T.Y. McGill, and exciting rookies Kentavius Street and B.J. Hill.
What’s Going To Happen: Brissett is a difference-maker in Doeren’s offense. And it’ll show immediately. While the newcomer lights a fire under the Pack offense, Georgia Southern will sputter adjusting to Fritz’s new-look spread-option.
Prediction: NC State 40 … Georgia Southern 17
Line: NC State -22.5; O/U: 53.5