Six weeks into the college football season, we’ve established that NC State hasn’t taken a step back despite losing a lot of talent to graduation—in fact, NC State has gotten better. It’s just about the entire rest of the ACC Atlantic that’s been in reverse.
The unexpected result is that State finds itself alone on the second tier behind Clemson, ranked nearly 30 spots ahead of its nearest competition per S&P+. The Tigers are the same behemoth they ever were, but the rest of the division—and thus the schedule—is astoundingly favorable.
NC State needs to beat Clemson, in all likelihood, to have any chance at winning the division and taking a run at some massive history. But even if State loses in two weeks, there is a path to double-digit wins and a New Year’s Six bowl game that is amazingly realistic. This division was supposed to be deep with potential bowl teams, one through seven. Instead, well ...
This is the projected road ahead, as S&P+ sees it currently:
NC State is expected to be a heavy, heavy favorite in four of its final five league games, with the road contest at Syracuse theoretically being the toughest challenge. Even in that one, NC State has a win probability of 67%, despite being the road team. It’s hard to wrap my brain around it, but here are these most inviting of circumstances, courtesy nearly everybody else backsliding for one reason or another. And what a huge opportunity to do something special, no matter how the Clemson game pans out.