After last Saturday’s underdog win against Pittsburgh, NC State currently sits 2-1 in the ACC. While Saturday’s performance gave Wolfpack fans hope for football again after the tough Virginia Tech loss, the Pack’s up-and-down performances will leave this matchup close. In its third straight away game, the Pack will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia to face the Cavaliers at noon this Saturday.
NC State football (2-1, 2-1 ACC) has already played three games this season, with nail-biting wins against Wake Forest and Pitt. However, the devastating loss to Virginia Tech leaves Wolfpack nation questioning the football team’s consistency. The two wins came when the Pack’s quarterbacks were able to perform. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary’s stellar performance against Pitt grabbed the Pack a last-minute upset win. With four scoring throws, Leary proved himself as No. 1 on the depth chart, but can he do it again?
Virginia will be heading into this matchup standing 1-1, with a win over Duke and dropping a loss to Clemson. As the reigning champions of the ACC Coastal Division, the Cavaliers are a veteran team, with a majority of their starters being upperclassmen and graduates. Their seniority and experience shines through in their offensive line, with Virginia only giving up an average of two sacks per game.
“They are very sound,” head coach Dave Doeren said in his weekly press conference Monday. “They are big. They remind you of a Big Ten team when you look at how big they are. They’re strong.”
Although the Cavaliers fell to No.1 Clemson last Saturday, their respectable performance displays true talent and ability to grab a win against the Wolfpack. Accumulating 417 yards against Clemson’s defense, the Virginia offense has become the first ACC team to total 400-plus yards on Clemson since NC State in 2017.
Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong poses a threat to NC State’s developing defense. Passing an impressive 270 yards as well as three touchdowns at Clemson, Armstrong has been the only to do so since 2000. Armstrong is currently averaging 337.5 offensive yards per game, which ranks him as No.1 in the ACC and No. 8 in the nation.
“Offensively, like with every offense, things are going to be by the QB,” Doeren said. “When he’s playing well, they’re playing well.”
NC State has the opportunity to continue to improve and beat the odds against them. Senior receiver Emeka Emezie, the hero of the victory over Pitt, tallied seven catches and two touchdowns last game, totaling 101 yards. With such a strong performance, Emezie will be a go-to receiver for Leary heading to Virginia.
Even with a strong performance against Pitt, the defensive line may have a hard time against this Virginia offense. With Armstrong only being sacked four times total, three against Clemson, predict very few sacks and a struggle for the Wolfpack defense.
Heading into the game as an underdog, the Wolfpack will have to show up and perform if it wants to walk away with another road win. With a threatening offense and lots of depth, Virginia will without a doubt give this NC State team a hard time. But even with an upset last week, it may not be enough to break Virginia’s nine-game winning streak at home.
Prediction: Virginia 41 - NC State 34