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2021 Wake Forest Football Opponent Preview: NC State Wolfpack

The brutal November schedule continues

NCAA Football: ACC Kickoff Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The team I might be highest on in the ACC outside of Wake, and part of the end of the Triangle stretch, Wake finds themselves playing host to the NC State wold

Game Date: Saturday, November 13th, 2021

Opponent: North Carolina State Wolfpack

Conference: ACC

Head Coach: Dave Doeren (55-46, 28-38)

2020 Stats

Record: 8-4, 7-3

Highest Ranking: 23rd

Post-Season: 21-23 loss to Kentucky in the Gator Bowl

Wins: Wake Forest, Pitt, Virginia, Duke, Florida State, Liberty, Syracuse, Georgia Tech

Losses: Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami, Kentucky

Yards per Game: 386.2

Yards Allowed per Game: 415.7

Points per Game: 30.2

Points Allowed per Game: 29.2

This is a team that matches with Wake in terms of returning production. NC State returns 20 starters, and out of those starters is a ton of production.

On offense this starts with QB Devin Leary, who missed the last seven games due to a leg injury. Leary is lesser-known than his NC counterpart Sam Howell, but has a very high ceiling as a starting quarterback. The offensive line anchored by Ikem Ekwonu is poised to continue their success and open holes for electric running backs Zonavon Knight and Ricky Person. Leary’s wideouts are nothing to slouch at as Emeka Emezie is an All-ACC caliber receiver, Thayer Thomas is a solid wideout, and Devin Carter is coming into his own.

The defense, well has to be better. They gave up 40 points four times last year, Wake had 5 and people wanted to burn the defense down. I’d argue they have the best linebacker group in the ACC with Isaiah Moore, Drake Thomas, and Payton Wilson(if he can stay on the field), but need production from the rest of the defense. Going out and getting Cyrus Fagan from FSU and Derrek Pitts from Marshall is the hope to stabilize the defensive backfield. It’ll also be interesting to see if FSU transfer Cory Durden or CJ Clark can come in and fill the void star DT Alim McNeill leaves.

NC State’s schedule is kind of all over the place, but if they are an 8+ win team, they’ll have earned it. Early games against Mississippi State and Clemson, 2 out of their last 3 games against Wake Forest and UNC, it just feels like looking at the schedule, every time they try to catch their breath, they get another coinflip game or tough opponent. I’m personally taking the over for the win total for this team, there’s too much experience and still winnable games for them to not hit seven wins.

This is a dangerous team for Wake to play and I have been beating the drum that the winner of this game is the second-best team in the Atlantic, but there’s a long way to go until November