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NC State vs North Carolina in 1-2-3

What I’m thinking about with this game

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One Thing I’m Worried About

  1. UNC’s offense, obviously. NC State has faced good rushing teams and they have faced good passing teams, but they haven’t faced an offense that is this balanced. Louisville and Notre Dame are the closest, but the Tar Heels’ offense - thanks to RB Omarion Hampton - operates at a much higher level. Much like the plan against Virginia Tech, albeit for different reasons, the Wolfpack defense will need to force UNC’s offense into situations that require them to be one dimensional with the passing game. That’s an odd statement to make with a consensus top five NFL Draft pick operating at QB, but keeping the ball out of Hampton’s hands is that important. In two of their three losses this year, Hampton has carried the ball less than 20 times.

Two Things I’m Confident In

  1. NC State’s defense. Yeah, I used this same one last week, but the point still stands: the Wolfpack defense is a point of confidence. The Wolfpack defense have been operating on a different level since the bye week, and UNC has only faced one defense (Clemson; 15th in SP+ Defense, 19.0 rating) that can compare to NC State’s (22nd, 19.8).
  2. The new-look, whatever-it-takes, hard-nosed identity of NC State’s offense. Is this Wolfpack offense perfect? No. Is it getting the job done? Yes. Since their bye week, the Wolfpack have been able to exploit the weaknesses of their opponents for big plays while mixing and matching personnel with different formational alignments to create advantageous situations. Most importantly, they’ve been great at getting the ball into the end zone, ranking 4th nationally since the Duke game in Points per Scoring Opportunity (5.42). Against a UNC defense that has been trending in the opposite direction (114th in opponent Points per Scoring Opp; 4.5), there’s reason for confidence in the State O.

Three Stats You Should Know

  1. Over the last five weeks (during which UNC is 2-3, with one of those wins being over FCS opponent Campbell), the Tar Heels’ offense ranks 48th in the country (garbage time stats removed) in Explosiveness. The Wolfpack offense ranks 20th during that same period.
  2. Despite the struggles of the team as a whole during their last five games, UNC’s offense is still killing it, ranking 7th in Offensive Predictive Points Added (PPA), 14th in Success Rate, 48th in Explosiveness, 2nd in Stuff Rate, and 11th in Points per Scoring Opp. The rushing game in particular has been lethal during that time, ranking 3rd in Rush Play PPA and 5th in Rush Play Success Rate.
  3. Since the start of State’s bye week, the Wolfpack defense ranks 5th in Opponent PPA, 34th in Success Rate, 13th in Explosiveness, 20th in Points per Scoring Opp, and 4th in Havoc Rate. Specifically, the Wolfpack have been nails against the pass, ranking 7th in Pass Plays PPA, 32nd in Pass Plays Success Rate, and 1st in Pass Plays Explosiveness.