Here's The Deal: Wake Forest is playing for pride and a jump start on the 2015 season. NC State still has hopes of playing in December, as the two longtime rivals square off Saturday afternoon in Raleigh. The Demon Deacons put up a valiant effort versus Clemson last Thursday, yet fell short in the latest chapter of futility in Dave Clawson’s Winston-Salem debut. They’ll look to play spoiler this week at Carter-Finley Stadium, as the Pack tries again for bowl-eligibility. State was bludgeoned last week by Georgia Tech, further proof of how badly second-year coach Dave Doeren needs more time with his team next month.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: The D is vastly underrated, especially considering how often it’s been on the field. Wake Forest is active and sound at all levels, from DT Josh Banks and DE Zach Allen up front to CB Kevin Johnson and S Ryan Janvion on the back end. The Pack attack has steadily regressed since the Sept. 27 Florida State game, a trend that’ll continue this week against the self-made Deacons.
Why NC State Might Win: Wake Forest’s problems on offense won’t be resolved until 2015 … at least. How bad are things for the Deacons? They’re averaging one yard per carry, and have scored just 12 offensive touchdowns. While the Wolfpack has gaping holes on D, it won’t be so obvious this weekend. And the Pack has the more reliable weapons, like QB Jacoby Brissett and a pair of backs, Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes, averaging more than five yards a carry.
Who To Watch Out For: A suspect NC State O-line must be up to the challenge this week, because Wake Forest likes to put its foot on the gas. The Deacons are tied for fifth in ACC tackles for loss, with Banks and Tylor Harris leveraging their quickness from the interior to blow up plays in the backfield.
What’s Going To Happen: It’s the same old tale for Wake Forest—the defense will keep the Deacons in games, but the lack of an offense will prevent them from actually winning. NC State will play with a sense of urgency, because needing to win in Chapel Hill in two weeks means getting too close to the flame. The erratic Brissett will put the Pack on his shoulders, carry his guys to a key win.
Prediction: NC State 28 … Wake Forest 19
Line: Wake Forest -14.5 o/u: 47.5
Must Watch Factor: 5: Foxcatcher – 1: The Comeback … 1.5