NC State has been pulling magic out of thin air the last two years in this rivalry. Has it been luck? Maybe a kicker missing a chip shot field goal in overtime is, but giving up two touchdowns to Emeka Emezie in the blink of an eye is just getting beat. Which will happen on Saturday night?
The ACC Network knows what it has in this game, and if this year's matchup is as classic as the last two, you can expect this game to stay in this timeslot moving forward. By a wide margin it's the premier matchup in the ACC this week, as other teams like FSU and Louisville are playing out of conference in-state rivals. We don't know what we'll get, and that's part of the fun. Both teams come in at 8-3 but took opposing paths to get there. This one is for all the bragging rights, as the winner has the singular edge over the other.
Given how expensive even the nosebleed seats are for this game, I'd expect the Carter-Finley crowd to be at next level energy. Hopefully that's a factor, as they usually take a step up at night, and even moreso when the heels come to town. They all remember the last time the heels were there, one of the most memorable Wolfpack performances in the last decade. Part of me wonders if the players will want it TOO bad. Playing on senior nights many times is a bonus for the away team, as they don't have to deal with that added emotion of their families being there and knowing they're playing in front of the home crowd for the last time. It was definitely a factor in last year's loss to BC (of all teams, BC!! Ugh, still hurts).
Okay, let's see how the panel thinks this game will turn out:
Offensive line continues its growth and the running game flows. Defense plays a great game.
I'll be honest, the combination of Maye, Hampton and Walker scares me. Did the offense peak too early last week? Did they put too much on tape? Will Walker's grandmother be in the stands for the game? These are the questions that keep me up at night. Ultimately, I think the unc offense can be explosive at a moment's notice, and the Wolfpack defense's kryptonite has been giving up explosive plays. Doesn't feel like a good combination. I think Hampton will largely be kept in check, but the passing game vs NC State's secondary is key.
The animosity of this rivalry absolutely feels like it's on an all time high level, so give me another all time classic in this rivalry, with Payton Wilson sacking Drake Maye to end it. GTHC!
This game always brings out the best in both teams. We are hungry and Armstrong is getting it done. We are the better football team. If we play good in the secondary we win.
So, what do you think will happen this week? Let us know in the comments below, and respond in the poll with your pick!