It’s unfortunate that NC State is in this position in mid-October, but with a tough schedule to finish out the regular season, the Pack’s bowl chances aren’t feeling so great at this moment. State still needs two more wins to get bowl eligible and is looking like it will be a significant underdog in all three of its remaining home games.
Based on the latest SP+ ratings, we can ballpark the lines for the remaining matchups:
vs. Clemson: Clemson -10.5
vs. Miami: Miami -8.5
at Wake Forest: Wake -2
at Virginia Tech: VT -1
vs. UNC: UNC -9
NC State rates higher than Wake and VT in SP+, but home field advantage gives both a slight edge. The Pack may need to win both of those tossup contests to get to 6-6, and given that one happens to be in Winston-Salem, where the struggle for State is eternal, it’s not something I’d be willing to bet on. The most realistic scenario is a split of those two games, leaving one big home upset necessary for a bowl trip.
Which is hardly out of the question—Clemson has been wildly self-destructive at times, while Miami, as usual, can be erratic (and criminally stupid, as Mario Cristobal demonstrated to great effect against Georgia Tech).
We’ll have to see how NC State resets after the break. Nobody’s feeling optimistic after that Duke game, but it’s still too early to write this team’s obituary.