Why to watch: NC State will be looking to get back on track after essentially laying an egg in its nationally-televised opener with South Carolina. The Wolfpack was unable to maintain the momentum from the tail end of 2008, stalling on offense and getting dominated on the inside. Any hopes of competing in the Atlantic Division or improving in Tom O'Brien's third year requires State to make the most of the next two games with FCS visitors. Murray State got off to a fast start with a 66-10 win over Kentucky Wesleyan, but bullying a Division II school doesn't change the Racers' profile. They remain a mediocre Ohio Valley team attempting a major step up in weight class.
Why Murray State might win: While last week's 66-point outburst had something to do with the competition, the Racers do boast a balanced attack that'll get production from QB Jeff Ehrhardt and RB Charlie Jordan. Speedy Derrick Townsel leads a veteran corps of wide receivers that'll present a challenge to one of the ACC's most generous defensive backfields.
Why NC State might win: The Wolfpack offense is going to be a problem in 2009, but just not this weekend. Murray State is an ideal opponent to work out some of the wrinkles. QB Russell Wilson is a playmaker, and is surrounded by a solid cast of skill position players. The Pack will soften the Racer D with backs Jamelle Eugene and Toney Baker, giving Wilson better looks when he drops back to locate WR Owen Spencer and TE George Bryan. Lost in last week's defeat was the play of a defense, which limited the Gamecocks to 256 yards and no points in the final 46 minutes.
Who to watch: The entire season in Raleigh hinges on the ability of Wilson to recapture his freshman form. He's the fulcrum for the Wolfpack, but his upside will be limited unless Ted Larsen and the rest of the line can provide him more time in the pocket. If Wilson and backup Mike Glennon are unable to make plays and distribute the ball, all of this season's goals will be in jeopardy.
What will happen: While many schools across the country got a breather in the opener, NC State had to wait an extra week. It comes at an ideal time for the program. Without having to contend with the speed and athleticism of an SEC opponent, the Pack will execute far better than a week ago, getting all of its offensive parts involved in the gameplan. Wilson will flip a couple of touchdown passes, looking more like the player, who was named All-ACC first team in 2008.
CFN Prediction: NC State 34 ...
Murray State 13 ... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 1