Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM
Syracuse at N.C. State
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The ACC is back on this week’s national TV contest Thursday night as two quality teams from the ACC Coastal face off in a critical battle as Syracuse and NC State both look for a first conference win of the season.
Neither squad is on pace to match last season’s success and this closely-lined contest will go a long way towards confirming another possible bowl season for the victor.
Syracuse Orange at N.C. State Wolfpack
Venue: Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina
Time/TV: Thursday, October 10, 8:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Line: NC State -4½, Over/Under 55
Last Meeting: 2018 at Syracuse (+2) 51, NC State 41
Syracuse and NC State combined for 19 wins last season with both teams in the conversation for the second best team in the ACC behind the eventual national champions. Right now Syracuse and NC State share the basement in the ACC Coastal standings however. With matching 3-2 records both teams have reasonable bowl prospects but the loser of this game will already fall to 0-2 in ACC play.
Challenging remaining schedules are waiting as well though Syracuse already has its loss to Clemson out of the way. The Orange host Pittsburgh next week before facing Florida State ahead of a November run with no easy outs battling through four teams likely alongside these teams in the middle of the ACC picture.
Urgency may be greater for NC State with the next two games on the road albeit with an off week in-between while the home game with Clemson still remains in November.
A decline in quarterback play has been a big factor in the decreased potential of these teams. Ryan Finley had excellent numbers for the Wolfpack last season and made the roster for the Bengals as a 4th round draft pick.
For Syracuse Eric Dungey was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country last season when he was healthy, though current quarterback Tommy DeVito did see significant action last year as well. DeVito has adequate numbers this season with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions and after taking a hard hit in the last game he is back at practice and expected to play this week with both teams having a bye week last week.
For NC State sophomore Matthew McKay opened the season at quarterback and the numbers were solid in wins over East Carolina and Western Carolina. He struggled in the loss to West Virginia and threw his first interception in the win over Ball State.
He was replaced early in the ugly loss at Florida State to close September and sophomore Bailey Hockman came in relief. Hockman is expected to start this week’s game despite now just 50 pass attempts in his career, 40 of them which came in the Florida State game after his team had fallen behind.
Dave Doeren coached two seasons at Northern Illinois before taking over at NC State in 2013. After a mediocre first four seasons with a 9-23 ACC record, the 2017 and 2018 seasons brought matching 9-4 overall records with winning ACC campaigns as Doeren went from a potential hot seat to being targeted by other programs last winter. It looks like a very difficult road for Wolfpack to turn in another nine-win season however and a sixth straight bowl season isn’t guaranteed at this point.
Dino Babers also came to the ACC after a successful two-year MAC run, winning the 2015 MAC title with Bowling Green. After back-to-back 4-8 seasons but with the big upset over Clemson in 2017, Syracuse broke through with a 10-3 2018 season capped off by a Camping World Bowl win over West Virginia.
At the moment Babers is 21-21 at Syracuse and a second straight bowl trip could hinge on this game with six more potentially closely-lined ACC games ahead to close out the schedule after this road game.
Having played Clemson already this season gives Syracuse a massive strength of schedule edge in comparing these 3-2 teams and also in part accounts for the statistical disparities between these 3-2 teams.
NC State rates dramatically superior defensively, particularly against the run but allowing 612 yards to Clemson weighs on those figures heavily for the Orange. In NC State’s lopsided loss to Florida State they actually had a 370-369 yardage edge but a 3-0 turnover deficit.
NC State won a pair of meetings in the late 1990s and meeting in the past six seasons as ACC Coastal foes, NC State has won four of six meetings S/U but going just 2-4 ATS.
NC State won four in a row before falling 51-41 last season at the Carrier Dome as a slight road favorite.
Syracuse started 4-0 last season and they were nearly 7-0 when they eventually hosted NC State in late October. At 5-2 the two losses were a 27-23 loss at Clemson in which the Orange had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and then a 44-37 overtime loss at Pittsburgh the following week. NC State entered the Carrier Dome at 5-1 but it was a second straight road game following a brutal 41-7 loss at Clemson that erased the 5-0 start. NC State was still in the top 25 for this matchup last October but early on it appeared clear that wouldn’t last as Syracuse led 24-7 after the first quarter. NC State rallied to get within seven by halftime and was within three in the fourth quarter before a late Orange touchdown after a Finley interception for the game’s only turnover.
Since taking over in 2016 Syracuse is 9-4 ATS as a road underdog under Babers with three outright upsets, Both ACC road upsets have come at Boston College with the Orange winning only three ACC road games in 12 tries. NC State is 28-16 S/U and 20-24 ATS at home since 2013 under Doeren. The Wolfpack are 5-10 ATS in the past 15 instances playing as a home favorite while 14-2 S/U at home since 2017.