CFN's Take: NC State vs. North Carolina

College Football News takes a look at Saturday's contest against North Carolina.

North Carolina (3-6) at NC State (4-5)   12:00 PM  ESPNU

Why to Watch: As recently as three weeks ago, this one looked like it would be a battle of ACC futility. Now, with both teams having picked up their play, it becomes an interesting matchup with potential bowl implications. NC State has won three straight and needs just two victories to become bowl eligible. After its win over Maryland last week, the Tar Heels need three wins with three games remaining (NC State, Georgia Tech, Duke). Though the upper reaches of the ACC’s divisions remain dreams for these two, the winner of this one can keep hopes alive for a post-season berth and a happy ending to what began as a tough year.

Why North Carolina Might Win: In last week’s win over Maryland, the Tar Heels got 92 yards out of redshirt freshman Johnny White, a great sign since UNC has been looking for some balance in its offense. If Wise can continue to produce, it will open things up for QB T.J. Yates, who continues to be efficient. Wise should have some success, because the Wolfpack continues to be banged up along the defensive front and surrendered 314 yards rushing last week against Miami. The Tar Heel defense is built to stop the run, which has been a staple of the NC State renaissance, while Hilee Taylor (nine sacks) has the ability to disrupt the Wolfpack passing game.

Why North Carolina State Might Win: The Wolfpack has been a completely different team over the past three weeks, a fact that can be proven in its plus-four turnover margin during that time. In the previous six weeks, NC State was minus-17. Expect sophomore Jamelle Eugene (365 yards in his last four games) to test the Carolina front seven, while Daniel Evans, who has been more efficient during the past three games, will work play action to open things up downfield. The improved State secondary picked off three Miami passes last week and held Hurricane QB Kirby Freeman to 1-of-14 passing.

Who to Watch: Last year, sophomore wideout Hakeem Nicks caught 39 passes in a solid debut. So far this season, Nicks has been even more impressive, hauling in 56 passes and scoring four times. The past four games have been particularly productive, yielding 25 catches for 289 yards. Though Nicks hasn’t yet made good on his big-play ability on a consistent basis, he remains the most skilled UNC offensive player and has the ability to make defenses pay which don’t devote extra attention to him.

What Will Happen:
Now we see why NC State wanted Tom O’Brien. He has it going and continues the post-season march with a big victory thanks to timely offense and just enough D to get by.

CFN Prediction
: NC State 28 … North Carolina 23... Line: NC State -3.5
Must See Rating: (5 Seinfeld: Season 9 - 1 Bee Movie) ...  2.5

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