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North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. #23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons Game Preview, Pick & Odds

Image courtesy of ACC Digital Network: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkTj_pQNfXc

North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-3 Overall, 1-2 in ACC)

vs.

#23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-1 Overall, 3-1 in ACC)

Saturday, November 2, 2019 @ Noon EST

BB&T Field (Winston-Salem, NC)

Moneyline: NC State (+235), WF (-290)

Spread: NC State +7.5 (-110), WF -7.5 (-110)

Total: O/U 60.5 (-110)

Odds Courtesy of MyBookie

Game Preview

It may seem like these two teams have had a solid rivalry over the last 10 years, as North Carolina State and Wake Forest have won five games each, with the home team going 8-2. However, their average margins of victory have been vastly different, which makes it clear that this rivalry isn’t as even as it seems.

Wake Forest has won their five matchups by a total of 38 points (7.6 PPG) and just one of them by double-digits, while North Carolina State has won their five matchups by an average of 26 points per game, including two wins of 30+ points. The home team is 18-5 ATS in their last 23 matchups, so there has been a clear home field advantage for each of these teams.

#23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

(6-1 Overall, 3-1 in ACC)

This year, the home field advantage belongs to the No. 23 Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Demon Deacons are 6-1 this season, with their only loss coming in a Week 7 shootout against Louisville. In that game, the Demon Deacons fell behind big early, trailing 28-7 just 10 seconds in the second quarter. They ended up accumulating 668 yards and scoring 59 points, falling 62-59 in the second-highest-scoring game in ACC history.

Five of Wake Forest’s seven games have been decided by six points or less and their two blowout wins have come against the winless Rice Owls and 4-4 FCS team, Elon. So, the Demon Deacons have had to sweat out quite a few close games this season.

Wake Forest’s offense is a juggernaut. They’ve racked up 523.9 yards (5th in FBS) and 37.1 points (18th in FBS) per game. The Demon Deacons have not yet been held to less than 200 yards passing or 100 yards rushing and have not been held under five yards per play in any game this season. They’ve racked up over 500 yards four times and over 600 yards twice this year, and have had two games where they’ve run over 100 offensive plays.

Redshirt junior QB, Jamie Newman, who sat out their 22-20 win over Florida State before last week’s bye, could be back this week. That would be a huge boost to this offense, which was held to its lowest yardage (424 yards) and scoring output (22 points) of the season against Florida State. Newman has looked excellent, as he leads the ACC in total offense and passing yards, and has the seventh-most total yards in the country. The redshirt junior has completed 67.5% of his passes for 1,772 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions.

His main offensive weapon has been dynamic sophomore wide receiver, Sage Surratt. Surratt leads the ACC with 125.9 receiving yards per game and nine touchdowns, and is averaging 16.6 yards per catch. He ranks fifth in the country in both receiving yards (881) and touchdown receptions (9), so he’s one of the more explosive receivers in all of college football.

The Demon Deacons defense has had its fair share of struggles, ranking 90th in yards allowed per game (419.3 YPG) and 61st in points allowed per game (26.7 PPG). They have benefited from forcing turnovers, as they’ve won the turnover battle in four of their seven games and paid dearly in their only multi-turnover game this season against Louisville (three turnovers in a 62-59 loss).

However, their defense suffered a big loss against Florida State, as redshirt senior linebacker and leader of the defense, Justin Strnad, suffered a torn biceps tendon in his right arm. The most recent reports surrounding the surgery have his recovery time at between three and four months, which means he will definitely miss the rest of the regular season. He could potentially return for a bowl game if he has a speedy recovery. But, we definitely know he will not be available to play this weekend, which leaves some big shoes to fill for the Demon Deacons defense. Prior to suffering the injury, Strnad led the team in tackles by a wide margin and was second in the ACC in tackles per game.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

(4-3 Overall, 1-2 in ACC)

The Wolfpack’s 2019 season has been a tale of two halves so far, with the second half looking much, much worse than the first one. They won two of their first three games, beating East Carolina and Western Carolina and losing to West Virginia. I couldn’t even find stats for Western Carolina on ESPN’s website, so that should tell you the level of competition from them. In those first three games, the Wolfpack went 2-1, out-gaining their opponents 1,414-820 yards and out-scoring them 102-50. In the four games since, they’ve gone 2-2 while getting out-gained 1,659-1,489 yards and out-scored 109-87.

Their offense will look a little different this week, as redshirt freshman QB, Devin Leary, will get his first career start. He will be the Wolfpack’s third different quarterback to make their first career start this year, which is a program record. The good news for North Carolina State: the past seven quarterbacks to make their first career starts have won those games. However, I don’t think that trend continues on Saturday.

In the run game, North Carolina State has been slightly below average, running for 154 yards per game (81st in FBS). Most of that production (over 63%) has come from their freshman running back duo of Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston, who’ve combined for 695 yards and five touchdowns.

On defense, the Wolfpack are ranked 29th in the country in rushing defense (118.4 YPG), but that stat is a little misleading. They held East Carolina and Western Carolina to a combined 49 rushing yards before being gashed by West Virginia through the air and on the ground (272 passing yards and three passing touchdowns and 173 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns). Then, they allowed 300+ passing yards in each of their next three games against Ball State, Florida State and Syracuse. The Wolfpack were finally able to slow down an opposing passing attack, as they held Boston College to just six completions on 15 attempts (40%) for 103 yards. However, Boston College didn’t really need to pass the ball, as they were able to run the ball 60 times for 429 yards and five touchdowns. When it’s not one thing, it’s the other for this defense. Their inconsistency on defense will not do them any favors this weekend against a Wake Forest offense that’s ranked 18th in the country in scoring offense (37.1 PPG) and 5th in the country in total offense, putting up an impressive 523.9 yards per game.

The Pick

Wake Forest has the more high-powered offense and could get a big boost if QB Jamie Newman comes back this week. However, the fact that he may still be somewhat affected by the left shoulder injury that held him out of their last game against Florida State is concerning. In addition, the importance of the loss of defensive leader, Justin Strnad, can’t be overstated. I believe North Carolina State’s offense will get off to a slow start with redshirt freshman QB Devin Leary making his first career start on Saturday. If the Wolfpack get off to a slow start, I can definitely see the Demon Deacons taking an early lead and winning by at least a touchdown. Therefore, I’m taking Wake Forest to win and cover on Saturday.

Betting Trends

NC State is 1-10 ATS in its last 11 matchups @ Wake Forest

NC State is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 ROAD games

The TOTAL has gone UNDER in 6 of Wake Forest’s last 8 HOME games

The HOME team is 18-5 ATS in their last 23 matchups

Wake Forest -7.5 (-110)

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