NC State vs. Wake Forest: Prediction, pick, odds, line, TV channel, live stream, watch online
A hobbled Deacs team heads to Raleigh for a Thursday night edition of the rivalry
Dave Doeren and Dave Clawson joined the ACC within one year of each other, each arriving after successful seasons in the MAC with Northern Illinois and Bowling Green, respectively. They've been division foes for four years now, taking part in a decades-old in-state rivalry between two of the conference's founding members. They each experienced what would be considered a breakthrough season in 2017, but their teams are headed in opposite directions here in 2018.
No. 14 NC State is nationally ranked at 6-2, with its only losses coming on the road to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Syracuse, considered by the selection committee to be the two best teams in the ACC, with a home win against No. 17 Boston College. Wake Forest is at 4-5 with its lone conference win -- also the team's lone Power Five win -- coming against Louisville as it heads into the final stretch of the season with a hobbled roster. The Wolfpack are a heavy favorite in this game, and Doeren has won three of four against Clawson, but beware of what the Deacs might have prepped for their annual in-state rivals on a short week.
Date: Thursday, Nov. 8 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium -- Raleigh, N.C.
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Wake Forest: Freshman quarterback Sam Hartman started all nine games this season, setting school freshman records for touchdown passes in a season (16) and total offense yards (2,259) before suffering a season-ending leg injury in last week's loss to Syracuse. Hartman is the 12th Wake Forest player lost for the season, and it's made an already challenging season all the more difficult for Dave Clawson. The Deacs have NC State, Pitt and Duke left on the schedule, needing to go 2-1 in that stretch in order to guarantee a third straight bowl appearance. That's a tough task even for a healthy Wake Forest roster this season, and an absolute uphill battle given the current makeup of the depth chart.
NC State: This is a huge statement game for quarterback Ryan Finley, Dave Doeren and NC State. Nearly two dozen ranked teams have lost in the last two weeks, resulting in the Wolfpack entering this Thursday night nationally-televised stage with a top-15 ranking. With Louisville, North Carolina and ECU left on the schedule, this is without a doubt the largest audience that NC State will have before the end of the regular season, and a dominant win would go a long way in validating that ranking in the minds of a national college football audience.
When NC State has been at its best this year, it's had one of the best offenses in the ACC. Finley is a proven producer who gets to flash that NFL potential when linking up with Kelvin Harmon and the rest of a deep wide receiver room. That passing game has opened up things for freshman Ricky Person and a rushing attack that likely represents the starting point for the post-Finley era. If everything is clicking on Thursday for Finley and the offense, there will be more confidence in buying this group as one of the best teams outside of the national championship race.
Game prediction, picks
Wake Forest's depth issues existed long before losing its quarterback, and it's the pass defense in particular that I think will run out of gas early against Finley and the NC State receivers. Because it's a rivalry game, there might be some resistance early, but I'm picking the Pack to make that statement and win big. Pick: NC State -17.5
So which teams should you back in Week 11 of the college football season? And what playoff contender will get a huge scare? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected score for every single FBS matchup, all from the model that has returned over $4,000 in profit to $100 bettors over the last three seasons.
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