Missed opportunities. More Winston & Wake woes for the Wolfpack. Both are true after last Saturday’s disappointing three-point loss to Wake Forest. But there’s still plenty to play for and the Wolfpack know as much. The first chance is Saturday as NC State hosts the Syracuse Orange.
Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. inside Carter-Finley Stadium and can be seen on the ACC Network.
On top of losing the game Saturday, the Wolfpack lost their driving privileges in the ACC Atlantic Division. While there is a slim chance for NC State to still make it to Charlotte in a few weeks, they will need help from the Deacons. One win in their next two games and Wake Forest will represent the Atlantic. If Wake Forest were to drop their next two contests and NC State were to defeat Syracuse and rival North Carolina next week, NC State would own the tiebreaker in a three-way tie between NC State, Wake Forest, and Clemson.
Sounds crazy right? It is. That’s why Saturday was so important.
NC State now sits at 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the ACC with a chance to still win 9 games overall. The Wolfpack offense arrived late in Winston Salem, but put up impressive plays once they got in their groove. Quarterback Devin Leary finished the contest with 408 passing yards and four touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. Emeka Emzie had another huge game, with 133 yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns as his draft stock continues to rise by the week. While the Wolfpack’s running game was quiet, the special teams unit received a huge spark from Bam Knight with a 70+ yard return to set up an NC State touchdown just before the break, and they followed that with a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown to open the second half.
The NC State defense, which has been banged up for a while, finally showed some signs of depth as they let a few big plays that they usually make slide through – limiting Wake quarterback Sam Hartman to just 290 yards and three interceptions and two touchdowns. A 13 play 75-yard drive was just enough to put the Deacons ahead by 10 before NC State drove the field in 1:02 – forcing a final review of a recovered onside kick that was touched a half-second too early by NC State securing the win.
Syracuse heads to Raleigh with a 5-4 record overall and 2-3 in ACC play, looking for one more win to become bowl eligible. Last week, the Orange were dominated from the beginning as they dropped a 41-3 decision to Louisville – ending their two-game winning streak. In common opponents, the Orange loss to Clemson, Wake Forest, and Florida State all by three points each.
- NC State posts a 12-2 record against Syracuse, with the only
losses coming in Raleigh, 10-24, in 2013 and a 2018 shootout in
- The Wolfpack’s win over the Orange in 2019 was its only conference victory.
- Dave Doeren’s first ACC victory at NC State was against Syracuse in 2014.
- The Wolfpack has won its last eight games at Carter-Finley,
including all five of 2021.
- The Wolfpack ranks 14th in the FBS in scoring defense, 11th in
rushing defense, 23rd in total defense, and fifth in third-down
- The Pack is 18-of-19 in RED zone scoring over the last six games
- Syracuse goes on the road for the final time during the 2021 regular season when it visits NC State on Saturday.
- The Orange are a win away from becoming bowl eligible for the second time under the direction of head coach Dino Babers.
- Freshman RB Sean Tucker is in posiƟ on to break Syracuse’s single-season rushing record.
- He enters Saturday’s game with 1,362 yards this season. He needs 11 yards to break Joe Morris’ mark that was set in 1979.