- Leading the ACC in passing by nearly 60 yards per game, NC State quarterback Ryan Finley could have a big night against a porous Wake Forest secondary on Thursday.
Wake Forest at NC State (-17)
Thu. 11/8, 7:30 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Wake Forest-NC State:
Wake Forest at NC State
1. The Demon Deacons come into this one at 4-5, and they are desperately fighting just for bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, the Wolfpack are 6-2 and a strong ending to their season could earn them a spot in a high-profile bowl game. Both teams have something to play for, but one thing that sets these teams apart is their history when playing at Carter-Finley Stadium. Wake Forest has had a lot of trouble in Raleigh over the years, as NC State is 5-0 both straight up and against the spread when hosting the Demon Deacons since the start of the 2008 season. And going back even further, the Wolfpack are 9-1 straight up and 7-3 against the spread when playing at home in this head-to-head series since the start of the 1998 season.
2. Over the last two weeks, NC State quarterback Ryan Finley has thrown for 713 yards with six touchdowns and only one pick in games against Syracuse and Florida State. The fifth-year senior has completed 67.8% of his passes on the year, and he has overall been sturdy under center for this Wolfpack team. It would be surprising if Finley didn’t keep up his recent hot play here. Wake Forest has one of the nation’s worst passing defenses this season, as the Demon Deacons are allowing 272.6 passing yards per game (115th in FBS). Only 15 teams are allowing more than that, but it gets worse for Wake Forest. Not only are the Demon Deacons allowing a lot of yards, but they have also given up 20 passing touchdowns and have picked off opposing quarterbacks only three times. Against a low-turnover guy like Finley, that’s not a promising ratio. Look for Finley to torch this secondary, which will also take pressure off of Reggie Gallaspy II and Ricky Person Jr. in the running game.
3. Not only do the Wolfpack have a significant advantage when going to the air, but NC State also has a good chance of containing Wake Forest’s offense here. The Wolfpack have the nation’s 38th-ranked total defense, and that would be even better if NC State didn’t already get rolled over by the high-powered offenses of Clemson and Syracuse. Where NC State is extremely tough defensively is in the rushing game. The Wolfpack have the third-ranked rushing defense in college football, which is going to be hard for the Demon Deacons to crack. Most of Wake’s success offensively has come on the ground this season, but this team doesn’t have the offensive line to contain the Wolfpack defensive front. And with the ground game due for an off performance, NC State will be looking to generate pressure to rattle Wake Forest backup quarterback Kendall Hinton, who is taking over under center due to Sam Hartman's season-ending injury.
Pick: NC State -17
Confidence level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)