College Football Pick
When looking at their Schedule at the beginning of the season, NC State didn’t know they would have to play two Heisman contenders in back-to-back weeks on the road. But that’s exactly what the Wolfpack are getting this weekend in another tough trip, this time to Louisville.
The Cardinals may have a loss, but reaching the College Football Playoff is still more than possible for them as long as the cards fall their way. And the only way to get there would be to drop 60-plus points on every team the rest of the way.
That said, it won’t be easy, even with LAmar Jackson at the helm. In this Game a year ago, Jackson had some trouble, completing just 10-of-27 passes for 103 yards. Sure, Louisville got the 20-13 win, but that was via Jackson on the ground as he went for 121 yards.
Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, their defense probably isn’t as good as it was a year ago and LAmar Jackson is undoubtedly better than he was in 2015.
NC State started the season with Four wins in five Games, but one of those losses came at East Carolina, who has lost Four straight since that win. The Wolfpack couldn’t do anything right in that Game defensively and if they put in a similar outing here on the road, expect big numbers from Louisville.
As for Jackson and the Cardinals, they do have that loss, but Jackson hasn’t actually been stopped yet. On the road at Clemson, one of the better defenses in the conference, Jackson still managed 295 yards through the air and 162 on the ground to go with three touchdowns. Needless to say, Jackson is aiming for the Heisman and has the Schedule to do it. But to get there, he’ll need big Games against defenses like NC State’s and that’s where another possible Louisville blowout comes in. In addition to Jackson getting his, Brandon Radcliff is quietly headed toward his best season as a senior averaging more than eight yards per carry.
But Louisville isn’t unfamiliar to backdoor covers, having given up late points to teams like Florida State and Marshall. Granted, the Seminoles didn’t cover, but they still scored half their points in the Fourth quarter.
So do the Wolfpack have the offense to Scorelate in this Game and get a cover? Quarterback Ryan Finley has been good so far, leading the Wolfpack with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in the first Four Games before playing in the water bowl against Notre Dame. But more importantly, running back Matthew Dayes reached 100-plus yards in Four of the first five Games for the Wolfpack. If they can get that ground Game going against the Louisville defense, that would in turn keep LAmar Jackson off the field.
When these teams met last year, Jacoby Brissett didn’t get the job dun through the air while getting dominated by the Louisville defensive line. But if NC State can get some early drives going via the run, that would help in covering this Game.
Of course, Jackson doesn’t need long to put the ball in the end zone and that’s obviously a factor. But at the least, the Wolfpack have been fine offensively so a backdoor cover won’t be out of the question, and that’s if they don’t keep it close throughout the entire Game.
Our Pick – NC State +20