Oh, hello again. It's YOU lot. I must say, the one thing I didn't miss this summer whilst completing my study abroad requirements and traveling the world was having to keep up with every uninteresting tidbit of Wolfpack offseason news, waking each morning fretting about who might have suffered what catastrophic injuries in camp or what scandalous outrage our friends in Chapel Hill might be perpetrating. As a matter of fact, being back is absolutely the worst thing I have done in months. In no way, shape or form am I completely stoked about the fact that in just eleven days NC State will return to the gridiron under first year head coach Dave Doeren. I am so absolutely unenthused, in fact, that...
...no takers? None? Well I suppose there's no point in continuing then, is there?
And to be frank, there wasn't a morning in Europe that I didn't wake up and come straight to this site on the horrifically bad hotel wifi to check up on the latest Pack news. You fellows have sustained me all summer.
I know you all missed my spotty contributions massively, and with my new season optimism I am happy to say that I should be back on a much more regular basis now that regular life is resuming its pace for me. As a start to this new trend, therefore, I have for you a long, excited piece filled entirely with conjecture and no facts whatsoever about the upcoming football season, as well as a news piece concerning a baseball recruit picked fresh from the pockets of our Orange County stepbrothers. Let me tell you, it is truly good to be back.
And so. The official TSotW 2013 football season predictions!
TL;DR of what is to follow - we won't be nearly as bad as everyone is predicting, winning 8-9 games easily. Short answer why? Schedule.
Long answer why? This team is far from undermanned compared to almost everyone on our schedule this year (with two notable exceptions, of course). We play eight games at home and only two outside the state of North Carolina. We have a fiery, youthful staff that at the very least might be able to avoid some of the finer examples of O'Brien playcalling. And, at the end of the day, we still play in the ACC.
I was tempted to sit down and analyze each game and predict a win or loss on a case by case basis, but I have been a Wolfpack fan for long enough to know that trying to pretend men can understand anything about the Machiavellian powers that manipulate the fate of the Red and White is an exercise in extreme futility. Instead, then, I'm trying a new system.
POOL 1: We will win these games, (nearly) guaranteed.
Of these picks, Wake Forest is the only iffy choice, what with recent troubles in our trips to Winston Salem. Given the change in staff, however, I feel that this is the year we shake off the O'Brien era blues and get the W at BB&T Field.
POOL 2: These games are toss ups that we can win. I predict we will win 5.
Clemson is the obvious standout here, and I am strongly suggesting it as our annual Big Upset game. I know the TOB days are over, but getting that one huge upset a year has been a Wolfpack trend since before the days of arm-folding, so I'm sticking with the pattern on this one. Clemson comes into Carter-Finley on a Thursday night on national television in their first true road test. If they beat Georgia week one, this could be their overconfidence game. If they lose, they won't care enough about the season to take us seriously. Either way, I smell trouble for the Tigers. Granted, the prolific passing attack will be a big strain for our defense this year, particularly as another shaky linebacker corps struggles to get pressure, but I think our new pistol offense will gash the Tiger defense and lead to a big win over a top 10 team.
The only other comment I have about this schedule is that I am (almost) guaranteeing a loss to either Duke or ECU in reverence to that OTHER NC State football trend, and heavily predicting a loss to Syracuse and it's nasty dual-headed threat at running back. Maryland is also a nasty beast for NC State, and it being the send-off game for the Twerps I can already smell the NC State S*it from here. Even so, that leaves the wins in this column as Clemson, UNC, Boston College, ECU/Duke, with the possibility of three more games to win to meet or exceed the 5 win threshold for Pool 2 I have set. Season's not looking so bad now, is it?
POOL 3: We will not win this game.
In Tallahasee, a year after trashing the 'Noles championship dreams, it's fairly obvious how this one will play out. With the Carolina game at home the next weekend and a favorable schedule the rest of the season, I am perfectly willing to drop this game in exchange for a wholehearted performance the rest of the year.
With the two easy start games, a week off to prepare for our upset of Clemson, and a follow up with Central Michigan the next week, we could reasonably be standing at 4-0 by Week 5. From there getting to 8 wins really isn't much of a stretch of the imagination. Matter of fact, the longer I look at this schedule the most opportunities I see for Doeren to put together a strong debut season, as creative playcalling and proper utilization of our playmakers will give us the tools we need to get to our fourth bowl in as many years.