Here's The Deal: NC State and Syracuse are running out of time if they have any hopes of playing beyond the final weekend of November. It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Wolfpack. The team opened 4-0, cold-cocked Florida State for about 15 minutes and then resumed being NC State ever since. It travels to Upstate New York to face the Orange, which is mired in a slump of its own. Syracuse has lost five of its last six games, as it poorly adapts to life with starting QB Terrel Hunt on the injured reserve.
Why NC State Might Win: All things being relative, the Pack has a better chance of sustaining drives and popping big plays in the Carrier Dome. State has the better quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, to go along with capable backs Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy and emerging TE David Grinnage.
With a much-needed week off, Doeren’s kids have a shot to recapture the offensive momentum it had in September.
Why Syracuse Might Win: The Wolfpack isn’t a good road team. In fact, it’s 1-22 in its last 23 ACC Atlantic games outside Raleigh. The Orange boasts the far better defensive team in all phases, led by active linebackers Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch. And since NC State is giving up 4.6 yards per carry, complementary Syracuse backs Prince-Tyson Gulley and Adonis Ameen-Moore should enjoy more running room than they’ve had in recent weeks.
Who To Watch Out For: Orange freshman QB A.J. Long is having a ton of problems operating the offense. Putting the rookie at the controls of the offense this early in his career was just never a part of the plan. He was completely overmatched at Clemson, though NC State in the Carrier Dome will be a far more manageable assignment. The Pack pass rush is middling, and the team ranks among the nation’s worst in third-down stops.
What’s Going To Happen: Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to fight history. NC State has major issues winning divisional road games, and it’s not as if the current edition is showing signs of being able to buck the trend. The Orange will blitz Brissett into mistakes, while the ground game absorbs some of the pressure from Long this week.
Prediction: Syracuse 27 … NC State 23