Why to watch: Now that Virginia Tech is back on a winning run, it hopes to finish this disappointing year without another smudge. After dropping consecutive games to Georgia Tech and North Carolina that altered the trajectory of the season, the Hokies have suffocated East Carolina and Maryland on the road. As a heavy favorite in the final two regular season games, the program hopeful it can still land one of the ACC's more desirable second-tier bowl berths. NC State, on the other hand, will not be bowling this season, a surprise considering it started 3-1 and handed No. 9 Pitt its only loss of the fall. The Wolfpack has stumbled to five losses in six tries since, and has already started to peak ahead to the objectives for next season.
Why NC State might win: Even during the tough times, the offense continues to exhibit a pulse, specifically the passing game. The Pack is averaging 32 points a game, and is also getting help on the ground from bruising veteran RB Tony Baker. When Russell Wilson remains in the pocket, he'll be looking for TE George Bryan or receivers Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer. Williams has elevated above the mediocrity throughout the season, turning his 36 receptions into 472 yards and a team-high nine touchdown grabs.
Why Virginia Tech might win: Not only is NC State unable to stop anyone, but the Hokies have awoken from their offensive slumber. The Pack has had to dig deep into the depth chart and use all different combinations in the secondary, but still has yielded at least 30 points over the last seven games. Helping keep that trend alive will be RB Ryan Williams, the nation's seventh-leading rusher, and QB Tyrod Taylor, who's fresh off the best passing game of his career. He'll scramble when it's needed, but also carve up the State defense, with strikes to top receivers Jarrett Boykin, Dyrell Roberts, and Danny Coale.
Who to watch: Out of necessity and design, Wilson will be throwing a lot in Blacksburg on Saturday afternoon. Once mistake-free, he's been picked off in each of the last six games and better keep his head on a swivel for No. 21, Hokie boundary corner Rashad Carmichael. A terrific all-around athlete, who's flourished in his first year as a starter, he has a team-high five picks and will occasionally be employed on the blitz.
What will happen: Back to playing quality football again, Virginia Tech is poised to throttle an NC State team that already appears to have its head in the offseason. The mismatches are everywhere, but especially when the Hokies have the ball. Williams will batter the Pack for 150 yards and a couple of scores on the ground, opening up the passing lanes for Taylor to remain hot through the air.
CFN Prediction: Virginia Tech 38 … NC State 16 ... Line: Virginia Tech -21
Must See Rating: (WWII in HD 5 … Old Dogs 1) … 3