Ken Martin/The Wolfpacker
NC State is riding high after its 27-21 win at Florida State. Can it keep the momentum going when Syracuse travels to Raleigh for a 12:20 p.m. kickoff?
The Wolfpacker editors Matt Carter and Jacey Zembal offer their predictions on how the game will turn out:
Everyone knows the story line of the week: Can NC State handle success? Former Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien used to surmise that the Pack seemed to handle adversity better than success. However, a closer look at the numbers may surprise some.
Since 2000, NC State has beaten a ranked opponent 10 times. Its record the following week? 5-5.
Among those five defeats were a pair of losses to another ranked team. In 2008, the Wolfpack followed up an overtime win at home over No. 15 East Carolina by getting drubbed at home by No. 13 South Florida, 41-10. It is worth noting that NCSU was without starting quarterback Russell Wilson in that USF loss.
In 2001, NC State won at No. 10 Florida State, then returned home to face a Maryland squad that would go on to win the ACC and replaced FSU at No. 10 in the rankings that week. The Terps rallied to win 23-19 in the final minutes at Carter-Finley Stadium.
In 2006, after a home win over No. 17 Florida State, the Pack suffered a close 25-23 home defeat to Wake Forest, which would go on to win the ACC title and play in the Orange Bowl. That win over FSU, though, followed the famous Daniel Evans-led rally at home over No. 20 Boston College, giving NCSU back-to-back wins over top-25 teams.
What we do not know is how a Dave Doeren-led team will respond since it is his first win over a top-25 team at NC State. Also unknown is how NCSU will do against a Syracuse team with a good quarterback. For the past two seasons, injuries have forced the Orange to start a backup against the Wolfpack. Syracuse’s Eric Dungey is far better than what NCSU has faced recently.
That said, the bet here is that NCSU will handle the success well and prevail.
Prediction: NC State 38, Syracuse 28
Syracuse is a little tougher, more athletic and healthier than the Orange teams NC State has faced the last two years.
The health part centers around the quarterback position. The Wolfpack always seems to play the second- or third-string quarterbacks in this matchup. Junior Eric Dungey will be one of the best quarterbacks NC State faces this season, likely right behind Louisville star Lamar Jackson.
What Syracuse doesn’t have is a consistent running game. The “Air Raid” offense has been slowly implemented, but it still feels as if second-year head coach Dino Babers doesn’t have all the parts yet. That will get solved in recruiting.
On paper, NC State should win the game because they are further ahead in putting together a complete squad. That is the difference in Babers being there just two years. The one factor that can never be underestimated is the hangover game following wins over Florida State or Clemson. This is a maturity game for the Wolfpack players, but it also should be a closer score than past matchups against the Orange.
Prediction: NC State 31, Syracuse 24
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