ACC Predictions: NC State
This is part five of a 12 piece series examining all 12 ACC school’s 2012 schedule and making predictions based on returning players and incoming talent. Today we focus on N.C. State.
North Carolina State has had an interesting couple of years. The Wolf Pack’s last losing season was in 2009 when they had a 5-7 record, but head coach Tom O’Brien was able to weather the storm and he now appears well on his way to creating a winning program in Raleigh. O’Brien lost top quarterback Russell Wilson when he transferred to Wisconsin in 2011. While the move originally seemed like it would hurt the Pack it ended up being a blessing in disguise. It gave Wilson’s backup, Mike Glennon, the opportunity to take over the offense and he didn’t disappoint.
In 2011 Glennon threw for over 3,000 yards, had a 62.5% completion percentage and threw for 31 touchdowns. NC State also has one of the top corners in the country in David Amerson (13 interceptions in 2011). The Wolf Pack is hoping for a great season behind these two stars.
NC State is a dark horse contender in the ACC Atlantic division in 2012. The Pack’s bid for that title starts in week 1 against Tennessee in the Georgia Dome. The Volunteers are far from the SEC’s best team, but they are still competitive in the best football conference in the country. This game will be tight until the end, but Mike Glennon will prove to be too much for the Vols’ defense (predicted NC State record 1-0).
The Wolf Pack then travel to play Connecticut in week 2. This isn’t the UConn of a few years ago (when Randy Edsall was head coach). The Huskies are built for low scoring games, but NC State will be able to pull away from UConn to win this game (NC State record 2-0). State then takes on the South Alabama Jaguars. The Jaguars have been very good under head coach Joey Jones, who has a 23-4 record at the school. This game will be closer than most people think it should be but in the end NC State will pull it out (NC State record 3-0).
NC State will end it’s out of conference schedule in week 4 against the Citadel (an FCS school). This will be the Wolf Pack’s final tune up game before ACC play begins (NC State record 4-0). State’s first conference game is in Coral Gables against the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes’ should take a big step in Al Golden’s second season as head coach. This will be a close game but Miami holds the edge because of the game’s location (NC State record 4-1).
The Pack will then go home to Carter-Finley Stadium to take on Florida State. FSU is going to be a tough team to beat in 2012. When these two met in 2011 NC State wasn’t able to score a point. This will be a closer game than last year but it will still result in an FSU win (NC State record 4-2).
This will start a four game stretch of winnable games for North Carolina State. The Pack starts this stretch with a trip to play Maryland. The Terrapins were the worst team in the Atlantic division and should repeat this season. This won’t be much of a test for NC State (record 5-2). North Carolina awaits after that. Last season the Wolf Pack shut out their archrival 13-0 and the Tar Heels won’t be much better this season (NC State record 6-2).
North Carolina State will then be visited by Virginia. UVa had a great season in 2011, but they lost a bunch of seniors, particularly on defense. Mike Glennon and the Wolf Pack’s offense will take advantage of this and cruise to an easy victory (NC State record 7-2). NC State final opponent in this winnable stretch is Wake Forest. Like UVa, the Demon Deacons had a great 2011including a 24-27 win over NC State. That won’t be repeated. The Wolf Pack has home field advantage and one of the best quarterback’s in the league. It will be close but NC State will pull it out (record 8-2).
The Wolf Pack will face their last real test of 2012 the next week with a trip to Death Valley to take on Clemson. NC State embarrassed the Tigers last season, winning by a score of 37-13. Clemson is a better team this year, but they play their archrival South Carolina the following week. I’m worried the Tigers will be caught looking ahead to the Gamecocks giving the Pack the edge (NC State record 9-2).
North Carolina State’s final regular season game is at home against the Boston College Eagles. Boston College isn’t going to be that good this season, but the Eagles were able to upset NC State last season (14-10). It won’t be that close this season. The Wolf Pack will still be fighting to win the Atlantic Division, while BC won’t be bowl eligible (NC State record 10-2).
NC State will have a very good season ending their schedule with a 10-2 record and a 6-2 record in ACC play. It will be enough to make the Atlantic division a three-horse race but I don’t think it will be enough to surpass both Florida State and Clemson, but it’s a good start.