With 14 weeks, 4 days before NC State’s football team opens the 2015 season, now is as good a time as ever to make a prediction for the season. The basis of this guess is based on the optimism coming from the 8-5 overall record of last season after a 3-9 record in 2013, coach Dave Doeren’s first year with the Wolfpack. Much of the optimism used for predicting comes from the return of senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett along with a stable of returning running back and some incoming freshmen who should play. There are weaknesses along the offensive line and in the defense which should get better as the season moves along. Without further ado, the regular season mark will be no worse the 8-4 overall and 4-4 in the league. On the no better side, go with 10-2 and 6-2.
The opening four games should be kick-in wins. The Wolfpack opens at home against Troy, Sept 5, and then hosts Eastern Kentucky a week later. If either of those two games is lost, the entire season is as well. There is no way at any time in the history of the NC State football program that the Wolfpack should ever lose to either Troy or Eastern Kentucky. The same should be said of the third and fourth games, both away, one at Old Dominion and the other at South Alabama. Actually, NC State should never ever travel to either of those two locations for football but by contract, it’s a must. But, at the end of September, the Wolfpack should be 4-0.
Atlantic Coast Conference teams, four at home and four on the road, make up the remainder of the schedule, the final eight games. In the worst case scenario (8-4; 4-4), the Pack wins two on the road—at Wake Forest, Oct. 24, and at Boston College, Nov. 7 (even though the Eagles give the Wolfpack fits)—and two at home—Syracuse and North Carolina, the last two games of the season Nov. 21 and 28 with State’s back against the wall to get to a .500 conference record, not yet achieved in Doeren’s two year career at State. Unfortunately, a 4-4 league mark puts the Wolfpack in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 conference tie-in bowl game, no better than last year.
The worst case four losses are to Louisville, Oct. 5, at home; to Virginia Tech, Oct. 9 (a Friday night game in Blacksburg); to Clemson at home on Halloween night; and to Florida State, Nov. 14, in Tallahassee. To get to the best case of 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the league, the Wolfpack will have to win two of these four, and the most likely candidates are the two home games against the Cardinals and the Tigers, but dropping one of those and beating the Hokies is a possibility. The Florida State game will be interesting because the Seminoles should have a down year, losing at least two games, three if NC State pulls the upset on the road. Is this an optimistic prediction or a realistic forecast?
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