Here's The Deal: NC State and South Florida meet in Tampa, both searching for better execution and consistency. The Wolfpack has been fortunate to have scheduled Georgia Southern and Old Dominion, because it hasn’t performed like an unbeaten squad. In fact, the Pack might be 0-2 if the level of competition was higher. The Bulls hung tough with Maryland, but sloppiness kept them from closing the deal in a 24-17 defeat.
Like Dave Doeren in Raleigh, USF remains a work-in-progress for second-year coach Willie Taggart.
Why NC State Might Win: The Pack has the better offensive weapons, led by QB Jacoby Brissett, who’s returning home to Florida. State is having success on the ground with Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes, and Doeren’s offense has shown signs of clicking.
The Bulls, on the other hand, have yet to throw a touchdown pass, and starting QB Mike White is questionable with a fractured arm.
Why South Florida Might Win: The defense is finally building a bridge to the days when Jim Leavitt prowled the sidelines. The Bulls are allowing just 4.7 yards per play, and they forced six Terp turnovers last week. LB Nigel Harris has been a microcosm of the unit, flying all over the field to wreak havoc. South Florida’s defensive speed will cause problems for a lumbering Pack O-line.
NC State’s defense must tackle better, or else rookie RB Marlon Mack will shred it.
Who To Watch Out For: White could play with the fracture. The fact that the Bulls are even considering it indicates how they feel about backup Steven Bench.
Bench is a more athletic quarterback, but he’s less likely to take advantage of the team’s receivers and tight ends.
What’s Going To Happen: Since neither team is in midseason form, expect a mistake-filled game. The Pack offense versus the Bull defense will be an interesting matchup of strengths.
While South Florida will tame Brissett, it’ll again lack the key conversions to turn the effort into a win.
Prediction: NC State 24 … South Florida 21