Run Right At ‘Em
We feel one of the key indicators for NC State and their chances of winning will revolve around the ability to run the football and they've been dominant on the ground this season, ranking No. 16 nationally in rushing defense.
Louisville has had problems stopping tailbacks. The Cards have yielded 100-yard rushing games to Clemson's Wayne Gallman (24 carries/139 yards), Auburn's Peyton Barber (24/115), and Houston's Kenneth Farrow (27/109). With that being said, those tailbacks totaled zero rushing touchdowns.
All that means is this could be a "Matt Dayes game" for NC State. He has four-straight 100-yard rushing games and with Shadrach Thornton dismissed from the team he's expected to receive a heavy workload.
Because of Louisville's quickness at linebacker and safety, State may be better served to run right at the Cardinals, but the problem is interiour defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins might be their best defensive player.
Don't expect NC State to avoid the ground game... it's pivotal to their offensive success.
Louisville is the best team NC State will have faced at this point, but NC State is the favorite. Most believe the Wolfpack should win the game.
Offensively, they must play clean football. The Pack has to avoid penalties, particularly pre-snap penalties that get them off schedule with down and distance. An occasional holding penalty will happen over the course of a game, but the Pack cannot withstand unforced mental errors prior to the snap.
Secondly, and it sounds like a broken record, but the Pack has to protect the football. Louisville is one of the best teams in the country when it comes to forcing turnovers, so State can't turn it over and give a young Cardinal offense a short field to work with.
The good news for NC State is quarterback Jacoby Brissett has led an offense that has committed only one turnover in four games. If they don't turn it over against Louisville the Wolfpack will be tough to beat.
Hit The Big Plays
Louisville is going to try and stop NC State's ground game. Look for them to commit extra defenders to force the Wolfpack to beat them through the air.
That means Brissett and the Wolfpack pass-catchers must produce, and must produce big plays. They will have opportunities to hit explosive plays because of Louisville's attacking scheme... they must make Louisville pay.
Jaylen Samuels getting open on a wheel route... Bra'lon Cherry vertically... Jumichael Ramos on quick slants... hit plays.
Keep an eye out for NC State junior tailback David Grinnage. He's started slow this season, but last year he had arguably the best game of his career against Louisville, totaling three catches for 43 yards and two scores.
Big plays for NC State could mean a long day for Louisville.