CFN's Take: NC State vs. Miami

College Football News takes a look at Saturday's contest against North Carolina. NC State (5-6) will be looking to upset the Hurricanes (7-4).

Miami (7-4) at North Carolina State (5-6), 12:00 EST

Why to watch: North Carolina State has been out of the ACC race for more than a month, but few teams are playing better as the end of the regular season approaches. The Pack has won three straight, including last weekend’s 41-10 rout of North Carolina, to pull within a game of bowl eligibility. That’s not too shabby for a team that was 2-6 and on life support not long ago. State went 4-0 versus teams from North Carolina, and would get a huge jolt of momentum by qualifying for a postseason game in Tom O’Brien’s second year on the job. In losing to Georgia Tech last Thursday, Miami dropped from contention in the tight Coastal Division race. Although an ACC championship would have put the young program a year ahead of its timetable, ‘Cane fans couldn’t help but get excited after making a cameo in the Top 25 last week.

Why Miami might win: As long as the ‘Canes don’t have to worry about defending the option, they’ll be fine on defense. Miami had been moving in the right direction with its inexperienced defense before running into the Georgia Tech ground game. North Carolina State won’t present nearly the same kind of challenge. The Hurricanes are No. 20 nationally in total defense, and all of those young players, such as LB Sean Spence and DE Marcus Robinson, have begun to play like sophomores.

Why NC State might win: Forget what you saw from the Wolfpack in September. This is a completely different team that’s running the ball much better with Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, and playing rock-solid defense. With Nate Irving back at linebacker and DE Willie Young creating havoc on the outside, NC State will toy with a Miami offense that still hasn’t found its bearings. Quarterbacks Robert Marve and Jacory Harris will wilt in the face of pressure and make the kinds of mistakes that change the tempo of a game.

Who to watch: Although he’s not getting nearly the attention he deserves, NC State QB Russell Wilson has been nothing short of brilliant as a redshirt freshman. Quickly becoming O’Brien’s franchise quarterback, he leads the ACC in passing and has thrown 14 touchdown passes without an interception over the last eight games. No, he doesn’t have the best fastball, but he’s mature beyond his years and simply won’t make a mistake to kill a drive. In Wilson, the Pack has a winner it can build around for the next three seasons.

What will happen
: Two programs headed in opposite directions will continue down those paths. While NC State is flourishing and in need of a win for bowl eligibility, what’s Miami’s motivation this weekend? The Pack will swarm on the Hurricane quarterbacks, forcing turnovers and providing a boost for the offense. Wilson will flip a pair of touchdowns without a pick for the sixth game in-a-row.

CFN Prediction: NC State 28 … Miami 17 ... Line: Miami -1.5

Must See Rating: (5 Football while eating Thanksgiving food – 1 Home movies after dinner) … 3

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