Both the NC State Wolfpack and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have had unfortunate luck recently. The Wolfpack (4-6, 1-5 ACC) are on a four-game losing streak, while the Yellow Jackets (2-8, 1-6) have lost their last three contests.
Each team will have to quickly pick up the pieces and move on, as the two teams will be looking to get their first victory in over a month when they will play each other on Thursday night in Atlanta.
In Raleigh last weekend, NC State lost to Louisville, 34-20. Georgia Tech also dropped one at home when it was shut out by Virginia Tech, 45-0. The Wolfpack have more to play for on Saturday, though, since they can still reach bowl eligibility with a win over the Yellow Jackets and then beating North Carolina next weekend.
This will be the first time the Wolfpack and Yellow Jackets have played each other since the 2014 season. Georgia Tech leads the all-time series 19-10 but has lost the last two matchups in Atlanta.
NC State at Georgia Tech
Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET
Spread: Georgia Tech -1.5
When NC State Has the Ball
The good news for Wolfpack fans is quarterback Devin Leary had a decent game in the loss against the Cardinals. The redshirt freshman completed 24-of-44 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, however, Leary threw a critical interception in the second quarter, which led to Louisville's first touchdown.
NC State was unable to take advantage of the Louisville defense, which statistically was among the worst in the country prior to Saturday's game. Zonovan Knight only rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries and lost a fumble.
Emeka Emezie did record eight receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown, but the other Wolfpack receivers failed to make much of an impact outside of Ricky Person Jr.'s touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 10. NC State will hope to have better success against a Georgia Tech defense that has been subpar this season.
Through 10 games, the Yellow Jackets are allowing 411.8 yards per game. They're also 93rd in scoring defense (31.1 ppg), while tying for 100th in sacks (16) and 93rd in takeaways (12).
When Georgia Tech Has the Ball
The transition from the triple option to a pro-style offense hasn't been smooth for the Yellow Jackets in head coach Geoff Collins' first season. While they've had their ups and downs, Georgia Tech hit rock bottom in their loss to Virginia Tech.
The Hokies were up 21-0 before the Yellow Jackets even recorded a first down. Things didn't get better from there, as Virginia Tech held Georgia Tech to just 134 yards of total offense. That was a dramatic change from the prior week when the Yellow Jackets gained 372 yards in their close loss to Virginia.
Quarterback James Graham threw two interceptions, including a second-quarter pass from his own end zone that was picked off and returned 17 yards by Caleb Farley for a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets will have an opportunity to get their offense back on track, as they will be against an NC State defense that has struggled in recent weeks.
During its four-game losing streak, the Wolfpack have surrendered 44.5 points per game. They're also allowing 456.3 yards per game during the same span. So the Yellow Jackets should have opportunities in the run and passing game to generate yards and score points.
Both the Wolfpack and Yellow Jackets have suffered through some rough times recently. However, Georgia Tech has had moments of improvement during its losing streak, unlike NC State, where it seems like their season has spiraled out of control.
What is alarming for the Wolfpack is the play of their defense. Sure, there is no shame in getting blown out by Clemson, but the trend was the same in their games against Boston College, Wake Forest, and Louisville too.
Expect the Yellow Jackets to run the ball, which remains a strength of the team. That should open things up in their passing attack with the hopes of big plays. This should be an entertaining matchup of struggling teams, especially with NC State looking to win its final two games to become bowl eligible.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 27, NC State 23
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.