The Wolfpacker game predictions: Furman at NC State

Matt Carter and Jacey Zembal, Editors
The Wolfpacker
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Ken Martin/The Wolfpacker

NC State will look to get above .500 when it faces Furman at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

The Wolfpacker editors Matt Carter and Jacey Zembal offer their predictions on how the game will turn out:

Matt Carter

Back in 2009, NC State opened the season with a much-anticipated home showdown against South Carolina. That game turned into a dud, with the Gamecocks winning a sloppy, offensively challenged contest 7-3. Then Pack fans had to endure two miserable weeks of playing against Murray State and Gardner-Webb at home. The combined scores of those two games: 110-21.

Fortunately this year, Marshall brought some name recognition to the week two contest after the Wolfpack suffered a disappointing season-opening loss to, ironically, the Gamecocks. Saturday’s opponent, Furman, does not even bring that.

To that end, it is important, according to Furman’s game notes, to understand one thing off the top about the Paladins:

“It’s ‘Pala-dins,’ NOT ‘Pah-ladins,’ ‘Pa-ladians’ or ‘Purple’ Paladins, just as South Carolina isn’t called the ‘Garnet’ Gamecocks or Clemson the ‘Orange’ Tigers.”

Now that that has been cleared up, the game itself probably will not offer much intrigue. Since going 8-6 and reaching the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in 2013, Furman is 10-26 overall and 0-2 this year. To its credit, it did play Wofford — which reached the third round of last year’s FCS playoffs — tough in the opener, losing 28-27. In week, two Furman lost to Elon — which finished 2-9 last season and made a coaching change, hiring former NCSU assistant Curt Cignetti.

This should not be much of a game, but will serve as a final tune-up before NCSU goes through its full ACC slate with a road contest at Notre Dame mixed in, leaving much to look forward to after Saturday.

Prediction: NC State 52, Furman 7

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Jacey Zembal

NC State always plays one FCS opponent and the goal is always the same, put the game away early and stay healthy.

This also sets up my other annual thought in that the Wolfpack can play Furman — and I understand it helps keep the Paladins financially afloat — but can’t play Duke, Virginia or some of the other ACC Coastal Division foes. One day when college football evolves, the FCS game will probably turn into an exhibition contest.

The other aspect of the FCS game is that it becomes the moment of truth for players hoping to solidify roles for the rest of the season. Whether it’s promising true freshman or older backups, the chance to shine could come Saturday. How players perform against Furman could have long-lasting implications.

For instance, fifth-year senior running back Dakwa Nichols has been mostly relegated to special teams. The Wolfpack hasn’t needed to play a third-string running back, but he should get his chance to showcase his skills against Furman.

Furman could also provide redshirt junior kicker Carson Wise a boost of confidence. He has missed one field goal and one extra point this season, and hasn’t alleviated fears in the kicking game. He should get plenty of opportunities against the Paladins, and junior kickoff specialist Kyle Bambard can work out the kinks in that area.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jalan McClendon got a little bit of a role as the “running” quarterback last year, but hasn’t played a snap this season.

Prediction: NC State 48, Furman 6

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