CFN's Take: NC State vs. Wake Forest

College Football News takes a look at Saturday's contest against Wake Forest. NC State (3-6) will be looking to upset the Demon Deacons (6-3).

Wake Forest (6-3) at NC State (3-6), 3:30 EST, ESPNU

Why to watch: While it hasn’t always been a work of art in 2008, Wake Forest has toughed out the six wins needed to bowl for a third straight year and compete for an Atlantic Division title. Although Maryland is capable of nudging out the Deacons in a tiebreaker, wins in Raleigh this week and against Boston College next Saturday could put them in the divisional driver’s seat. Wake is coming off its best game since September, handling Virginia, 28-17. Is North Carolina State about to start a second-half rally for the second straight year? It sure looked like last weekend in Durham, with the Pack beating Duke to snap a four-game skid. The bye week was instrumental for State, which welcomed back LB Nate Irving, the team’s best defender, and found the right mix of personnel on both sides of the ball for a change. A longshot to climb back into the bowl picture, it’s going to be a dangerous opponent down the stretch.

Why Wake Forest might win: NC State’s year-long struggles on offense are going to continue this weekend. The Pack ranks No. 11 in the ACC in scoring and total offense, rarely having much success on third down. It’s going to run into a veteran Deacon defense that’s collected more turnovers than any team in the country. While NG Boo Robinson and LB Aaron Curry will keep State’s running game in neutral, corners Alphonso Smith and Kevin Patterson will make Russell Wilson think twice about throwing into coverage.

Why NC State might win: Wilson has a tough challenge ahead, but based on his recent play, he just might be up to it. Over his last five games, the freshman has thrown 10 touchdown passes without an interception. His low-risk passing coupled with a running game that’s gone for 150 yards in three straight games is enough for the Pack to keep pace with a suspect Wake Forest offense. The Demon Deacons have had problems at the point of attack all year, which could create openings for Irving and DE Willie Young to get in the face of QB Riley Skinner.

Who to watch: With more reps in recent weeks, DE Kyle Wilber has started producing for the Wake Forest defense. A long and lean redshirt freshman, he’s used an explosive first step to pick up sacks in each of the last two games. The Demon Deacons need more from the pass rush in the final month, something Wilber looks capable of providing.

What will happen: Throw out the records and any preconceived notions about these two programs. Wake Forest will be in for a four-quarter battle against an NC State team that hasn’t quit on Tom O’Brien. The Deacons will survive on the running of Brandon Pendergrass and the strength of the defense, but they’ll need all 60 minutes to get out of Carter-Finley with the victory.

CFN Prediction: Wake Forest 26 … NC State 21 ... Line: Wake Forest -4

Must See Rating: (5 Quantum Of Solace – 1 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa) … 3.5

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