Wake Forest at NC State
Saturday, 12:30 pm PT
CRIS Opener: NC State -9 O/U 51.5
CRIS Current: NC State -11 O/U 48.5
On a perfect 3-0 run with the ACC free play involving the Pittsburgh Panthers, I’ll shift away and tap into an Atlantic Division contest. Situational edge here goes to the Wolfpack which enter the game off of a bye week. Last season NC State had the same bye week situation and won 35-17 in Winston Salem. That could be where the similarities end because at this juncture of the season, the fundamentals in this matchup look a bit different.
In their late October meeting last season, NC State running back Matt Dayes ran wild scoring two touchdowns of 50+ yards and gaining 205 overall. Dayes and the NC State ground game have had a strong start to this season (210.7 ypg) but the Wake Forest run defense has been a rock allowing just 88.5 rypg and 2.7 per carry. What has been vulnerable is the Demon Deacons pass defense which has yielded an average of 414 ypg in contests versus Duke and Indiana. Wake Forest’s other two games were against triple-option Tulane and FCS heavily run oriented Delaware. NC State’s first-year starting quarterback (Boise State transfer) Ryan Finley has completed an amazing 76.3% of his passes thus far with six touchdowns and no interceptions. If Wake Forest is able to focus on and contain Dayes and the ground game, Finley can hurt their weak secondary through the air.
Wake is off of a 33-28 road underdog victory last week against Indiana but the statistical line shows some very concerning numbers. Every team would love to be +5 in turnover margin like the Deacons were last Saturday but to have that monster advantage and only win by five points indicates some flaws. The most glaring was the 611 total yards Indiana gained as they shredded the Wake Forest defense for 7.7 yards per play and 17.7 per pass completion.
The contest last week in Bloomington is somewhat of an aberration because of the all the big plays. Wake Forest had the five takeaways, a blocked FG, ran an interception back for a TD and scored 33 points despite 11 of their 15 possessions gaining only 22 yards or less. Their run defense was again stout vs. a very capable IU ground attack led by Devine Redding who had his string of five straight 100+ yard games ended.
NC State’s offense will be facing a major step up in class here after facing three poor defensive units in a row and they may be hard pressed to run against Wake Forest the way they did last year primarily because the Deacons no longer have to defend the read option. Having to account for Jacoby Brisset’s running ability last year did open things up for other NC State runners but Finley isn't much of a running threat. I like the way the Wolfpack defense is playing right now and look for them to keep Wake's point production to much less than last week. Money has already taken a bite out of this total but still feel good about a recommendation on the under.