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NC State fits the profile of a breakout team in more ways than one

Science! Er. sciency-ish.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

While the majority of off may rightfully laugh off any playoff predictions for NC State, a finish in the nation’s top 10 is by no means a zany notion--in fact, there is plenty of precedent for teams that finished the year prior outside the top 25 to finish the next in the top 10.

As explains in this piece, in six of the last seven years, multiple schools have gone from unranked to finishing in the top 10 the next season. Based on the things those teams had in common, the article goes in search for potential breakout squads for 2017 and ends up with a list of 16 power-five schools that meet the criteria--including NC State.

The criteria is based on both multi-year recruiting rankings (NC State is 10th out of 16) and returning starters (5th).

From this pool of teams, it is possible that several of them end up finishing in the top 10 “out of nowhere,” at least “nowhere” as defined by last year’s final AP Poll. Recent history suggests at least one of them will.

So, no, you are not merely talking crazy with your rose-colored glasses worn proudly when you mention that you feel like NC State can be a big surprise in college football this season. It may not necessarily be likely—and it isn’t (thanks a lot, Atlantic Division)—but it is not an idea grounded merely in fantastical pre-season hypey hooey.