The Wolfpacker game predictions: NC State at Georgia Tech
It's do-or-die for NC State football's bowl hopes.
The Pack is at Georgia Tech Thursday night, with both teams playing on short rest. The Yellow Jackets have struggled in coach Geoff Collins' first year during a 2-8 campaign, but they are still a 2.5-point favorite over NC State.
Can NCSU snap its four-game losing streak and set up a showdown with archrival UNC where the winner likely goes bowling? We make our game predictions below:
This is a hard game to predict. It's hard to ignore the reality that NC State has lost six of its seven games against Power Five opponents this year, and all those defeats were by at least 13 points.
On the other hand, Georgia Tech has gone through a year that was easy to see coming. The Yellow Jackets are going from a triple-option offense under former head coach Paul Johnson to a spread attack under Collins. The polar-opposite offenses require different types of personnel, and the transition has understandably been painful at times.
In ACC-only games, NC State is 12th out of 14 league teams in total yards and Georgia Tech is 14th. In points per game, the Jackets are 13th and the Wolfpack is last. Thus what is not hard to forecast is that this is going to be a low-scoring game.
Who wins is the tricky part. Georgia Tech, statistically, struggles to throw the football. So does Boston College, but it managed to run over NC State's defense. BC leads the ACC in conference-only games in rushing average, however, at 281.6. Georgia Tech is much more modest in its output (138.4).
Thus, my hunch is that this is a game where the Pack defense can hold up. Furthermore, Georgia Tech really struggles to stop the run — it is next-to-last in the league for doing so in conference games. On paper, it sets up where NC State might be able to win the line of scrimmage
I have NC State edging the Jackets, 17-14.
Week 1 vs. ECU — Prediction: 34-17 NC State; Actual: 34-6 NC State
Week 2 vs. WCU — Prediction: 51-10 NC State; Actual: 41-0 NC State
Week 3 at WVU — Prediction: 20-14 NC State; Actual: 44-27 West Virginia
Week 4 vs. Ball State — Prediction: 38-27 NC State; Actual: 34-23 NC State
Week 5 at Florida State — Prediction: 34-24 Florida State; Actual: 31-13 Florida State
Week 6 vs. Syracuse — Prediction: 30-27 NC State; Actual: 16-10 NC State
Week 7 at Boston College — Prediction: 24-21 NC State; Actual: 45-24 Boston College
Week 8 at Wake Forest — Prediction: 34-21 Wake Forest; Actual: 44-10 Wake Forest
Week 9 vs. Clemson — Prediction: 52-10 Clemson; Actual: 55-10 Clemson
Week 10 vs. Louisville — Prediction: 33-20 Louisville; Actual: 34-20 Louisville
Georgia Tech is a hard team to figure out because it can defeat Miami in overtime and go toe-to-toe at Virginia, but then it got smoked 45-0 versus Virginia Tech at home.
That is what has happened the last four games, with a 20-10 loss vs. Pittsburgh tossed in. The Yellow Jackets are clearly in a transition year under new coach Geoff Collins, and he should be encouraged by what he has seen so far. The future of GT football will be built around freshman quarterback James Graham and sophomore running back Jordan Mason. Add in freshman wide receiver Ahmarean Brown and sophomore wideout Malachi Carter, and some playmakers are starting to emerge.
Graham has been feast or famine for Georgia Tech. He'll throw the ball up for grabs at time, and he's passed for under 100 yards in three of the last four games. That won't cut it against anyone. However, he showed against Virginia that he can be a solid quarterback. During a 2-8 season, the Yellow Jackets can live with his developmental mistakes, hoping it pays off down the line.
This should be the week where NC State's bizarro turnover statistic — the fact that the Wolfpack haven't forced a turnover in ACC play this season — falls to the wayside.
Usually, I have a good gut feeling about my predictions, but not this week with the Baby Jackets. I'll go with NC State winning 20-17 and echo Matt's thoughts that it will be a low-scoring game.
Week 1 vs. ECU — Prediction: 38-17 NC State; Actual: 34-6 NC State
Week 2 vs. WCU — Prediction: 48-3 NC State; Actual: 41-0 NC State
Week 3 at WVU — Prediction: 27-10 NC State; Actual: 44-27 West Virginia
Week 4 vs. Ball State — Prediction: 27-17 NC State; Actual: 34-23 NC State
Week 5 at Florida State — Prediction: 27-24 Florida State; Actual: 31-13 Florida State
Week 6 vs. Syracuse — Prediction: 26-19 NC State; Actual: 16-10 NC State
Week 7 at Boston College — Prediction: 27-24 NC State; Actual: 45-24 Boston College
Week 8 at Wake Forest — Prediction: 31-20 Wake Forest; Actual: 44-10 Wake Forest
Week 9 vs. Clemson — Prediction: 45-17 Clemson; Actual: 55-10 Clemson
Week 10 vs. Louisville — Prediction: 31-17 Louisville, Actual: 34-20 Louisville
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