North Carolina State’s main competitor in the ACC is Clemson. The Wolfpack know that if they beat Clemson, they have a real chance to win the ACC Atlantic Division championship and advance to the ACC Championship Game.
The frustrating part of last season was that N.C. State did indeed beat Clemson and yet still didn’t win the Atlantic or play in the ACC title game. The Wolfpack lost to Wake Forest, and they also lost to Miami. Wake Forest lost to Clemson but no one else, boxing the Wolfpack out of the ACC title game.
This year, Clemson is the favorite in the ACC at -140, but the Tigers aren’t the mortal lock they have been in recent years. If North Carolina State, who is at +750, can beat Clemson for a second straight season, this time the chances of winning the division and advancing to the ACC Championship Game are a lot greater.
Wake Forest is not as strong as it was last season, so the path is there for North Carolina State to make its first ACC Championship Game and improve the stature of the program under head coach Dave Doeren. It’s a huge moment of opportunity – and pressure – for the Wolfpack football family.
How The Team Changed This Offseason
Offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Ekwonu handled a lot of high-leverage assignments for the North Carolina State offensive line. Being able to take care of his man freed up the rest of the offensive line and enabled the Wolfpack offense to function smoothly. This is an area of concern for the 2022 Pack: replacing Ekwonu and finding continuity throughout their offensive front.
North Carolina State Will Be Successful If…
Devin Leary plays to his potential at quarterback. Two seasons ago, Leary surprised everyone by quickly mastering the quarterback position as an underclassman. Now he is a seasoned veteran and someone the other players look to for leadership and accountability.
If Leary can blend leadership and production this season and step up in big moments, especially against Clemson, North Carolina State can reach the ceiling of its potential as a program. If he falters and is merely ordinary at quarterback, this team won’t find the extra ingredients it needs to overcome Clemson in the ACC Atlantic.
North Carolina State Will Disappoint If…
The offensive line can’t put Leary in the best possible position to succeed. North Carolina State has a good offense. The Wolfpack are expected to have a very good, maybe even great, defensive unit thanks to their elite linebackers. The offense will need to max out in the biggest games of this team’s season, and that will only happen if the offensive line is able to stand tall and match expectations.
The One Best North Carolina State Wolfpack Bet Is…
Week 1: N.C. State -9.5 vs. East Carolina
There will be tough opponents for North Carolina State this season, but East Carolina in Week 1 is an opponent the Wolfpack should be able to physically dominate at the line of scrimmage. One should feel comfortable rolling with State in the season opener.